While the scale of the damage from last week’s massive fire in the customs office of Islam Qala border town in Herat remains unclear, investors on Saturday said that some of their goods, mainly their trucks, were looted by strongmen and that they should be recovered.
The fire that broke out in the customs office last week on Saturday continued for at least 24 hours in which according to initial information, over 1,000 trucks were damaged.
“A container of our assets was burnt and another was looted... Those individuals have been identified, but we are helpless to regain our property and belongings from them,” said Abdul Basir, an investor.
“We found the goods with the help of the people. We were prepared to give them money in exchange for our belongings, but they are not ready to return them. We talked to the government, but it relies only on the registration of our complaints. Only God knows whether the government will be able to find our goods,” said Ahmad Zia Mehraban, a trader.
Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment said that millions of dollars in the assets of traders and drivers are in the hands of local strongmen and those living near the Islam Qala customs and the government should ensure goods and trucks are returned to them as soon as possible.
“Some assets and vehicles were stolen. This should be investigated, and the government should be accountable before drivers and the transportation companies,” said Younus Qazizada, head of Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment.
Local officials said security forces have recovered dozens of vehicles from “looters” and efforts are underway to find the remaining.
“We continue our efforts to find the remaining vehicles that have gone missing. We recovered 69 vehicles,” said Sayed Wahid Qatali, the governor of Herat.