Road closures send prices 30% up in Badakhshan

FAIZABAD (Pajhwok): After heavy snowfalls in northeastern Badakhshan province closed roads connecting border districts with the provincial capital Faizabad, the prices of food and other daily-use items in these areas have increased by 30 percent, with the trapped residents demanding urgent government’s assistance.

A number of local residents of the snow-capped districts told Pajhwok Afghan News that due to the increased prices, they critically need immediate aid. Meanwhile, Badakhshan authorities say they are ready to deliver urgent aid to the disconnected districts and will soon begin the aid distribution process.

Each year snowfalls result in closure of transit routes linking Ishkashim, Sheghnan, Wakhan, Zebak and Darwaz’ha border districts with Faizabad for six to seven months and thus prices of food items considerably spike. Hayatullah, a resident of Ishkashim district, claimed the price of a 49kg bag of Indian sugar jumped to 3,675 afs from its previous price of 2,695afs.

He said similarly the price of 24kg locally produced rice increased to 2,590afs from 2,170 afs, 49kg of Qazaqi flour to 2,200afs from 18,00afs, 16 liter of Wahab cooking oil to 2,250afs from 1,800afs, 1kg of black tea price increased to 200afs from 150afs and 1kg green tea price to 180afs from 130afs. The government employee told Pajhwok Afghan News that the economic situation of majority residents of Ishkashim district had deteriorated and the price-hike had added to their problems.

He demanded urgent government aid and warned of a humanitarian crisis in case the government did not provide aid to the residents. Meanwhile, GulAhmad, 38-years-old resident of Wakhan district, was concerned about the spike in prices of food items and said winter arrived early this year. “We used to store food items every year as businessmen exploit the situation and increase prices”.

He said there was an increase of 100afs to 1,000afs in prices of different items and poor families could not afford to buy them. Eidi Shah, a tailor in MaimidarwazBala district of Badakhshan, also expressed his concern about the increased prices and said local residents were facing problems as a result.

He added there was widespread unemployment and poverty in the district while transit routes were closed and no food items were available in their area. He said the government should pay attention to their problems in order to avoid a human disaster. Talibuddin, deputy head of the provincial council of Badakhshan, told Pajhwok Afghan News that snowfalls and Taliban presence in Wurduj district had caused closure of transit routes of some districts.

He confirmed a 30pc rise in prices of food items and the problems people were facing. He demanded immediate aid to the needy families. Local authorities accept the hike in prices and say they are prepared to deliver urgent aid to the cut-off districts and will soon begin the aid distribution process.

Farid Ahmad Nikpoor, director of Natural Disaster Management, told Pajhwok Afghan News that they were ready to deliver urgent aid from the government and assisting organs. He added they had set up warehouses and strategic store rooms in several districts for usage during the aid distribution. “Before the roads were closed to these districts, we delivered over 100 tons of items to the warehouses to be distributed in such critical time,” he said. The food items’ distribution process would be started soon in the districts, he said.