Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Afghan Conference May Mean More Shipping Delays

Today Sees Start of Largest Ever Afghan Political Gathering
Shipping News Feature

AFGHANISTAN – Shippers should note that the 'The International Conference on Afghanistan' which starts today may mean even bigger delays for exporters and importers than is usually experienced in the war torn country. All customs facilities in and around the capital Kabul are likely to close for an unspecified period as world leaders gather in the city.

The conference, co-chaired by President Hamid Karzai and UN chief Ban Ki-moon and led by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be attended by up to 70 international representatives, including about 40 foreign ministers. Afghan representatives will present proposals on governance, economic and social development, rule of law and justice, human rights, peace and reconciliation, regional and global partnerships and aid effectiveness.

In the run-up to the conference, there has been a surge in suicide bombings and attacks by Taliban forces on US-NATO facilities, resulting in June having the highest casualty rate since operations began. Last night saw a series of explosions in the government and diplomatic quarter believed to be Taliban rocket attacks and police forces have blocked the roads and streets in those areas, preventing even pedestrian traffic. Up until a few minutes ago travel throughout the city in the vicinity of the venue was reported as almost impossible without the correct pass although the situation has now eased somewhat.

A public holiday was declared for yesterday and today but it is unlikely that commercial freight shipping will return to normal before the end of this week at least so shippers should anticipate even longer delays than usual.