Following an explosion at the Islam Qala border crossing between Afghanistan and Iran, which led to casualties and the destruction of a large number of trucks, IRU Secretary General Umberto de Pretto met this week with the Afghan Minister for Transport, Qudratullah Zaki, to discuss how such incidents could be avoided in the future.
Umberto de Pretto focussed on how the government could make use of global standards and UN conventions to improve the safety of road transport, including at border crossing points. Safety standards, such as those set out in the Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR), are vital to avoid accidents.
The incident at Islam Qala was particularly devastating because there were a huge number of trucks waiting at the border. The TIR system, based on the UN TIR Convention, smooths border-crossing procedures and enables goods to be cleared when they reach their destination, rather than at the border. Reducing congestion at borders significantly, the TIR system would also therefore mitigate damage and casualties resulting from accidents like the one at Islam Qala.
Umberto de Pretto and Qudratullah Zaki discussed how international standards could be implemented through road transport reform, which would mean more training and a greater level of professionalism in the sector. Following the guiding principles set out by IRU, in collaboration with the World Bank, would enable Afghanistan to effectively reform its road transport sector, with a view to boosting trade and transit.
“Full implementation of TIR, including establishing TIR green lanes, and accession to UN conventions such as the ADR will not only promote Afghanistan’s role as a transit country, but also reduce the risk of accidents,” said Umberto de Pretto.
With Qudratullah Zaki agreeing that the TIR system was an efficient tool to boost transport and transit in Afghanistan, it was decided to establish a working group between IRU, the Afghan government and IRU member in Afghanistan – the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI) to address road transport, transit and border crossing issues in the country.