After the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Turkmenistan opened its borders with all neighboring countries. At the same time, the work of customs posts at border crossings was resumed. However, with the beginning of their work, the old vices of the system appeared - violations of the law, corruption, etc.
As a source in the customs committee says: “... we can say with confidence that the «Altyn Asyr» customs post in the Etrek region, located on the border with the Islamic Republic of Iran, was opened not for the benefit of the people, but for the selfish purposes of officials.”
He substantiates his conclusion on the basis of numerous complaints from residents of the Balkan province who are dissatisfied with the work of the customs committee.
“Unlike other points, only trucks pass through this customs point. This is due to the fact that employees of the Ministry of National Security, using their official position, set up a business here for transporting contraband goods. Cigarettes and drugs are smuggled across the border,” - a resident of the Balkan province denounces officials.
In the past, residents of this province traveled to the Islamic Republic of Iran on business in private cars. Many of them have to engage in small businesses, bringing various consumer goods from abroad for sale, since unemployment is growing in the province, as throughout the country, and the state is not able to provide people with work.
For example, in the Etrek region several collective farms were disbanded. Currently, its residents, in order to go to Iran, are forced to travel several hundred kilometers and cross the border through a customs post located in Saragt. Residents of the province have no other opportunity for small business, and therefore for survival.
The customs post “Bajygyran” closest to the Balkan province is located near the city of Ashgabat. However, cars not registered in the capital, are not allowed there. At this post, customs officers: “... often they say go through the customs point that belongs to your province,” - a small businessman from the Balkan province told our source. That is why his colleagues from the Balkan province are forced to go through customs in Saragt, where, according to one of the entrepreneurs, complete chaos is happening. At the Saragt customs post, customs officials, in violation of their own rules, force citizens of Turkmenistan from other provinces to pay bribes.
An entrepreneur from Lebap province confirmed that employees of the customs post located in Saragt allow only 25 kilograms of cargo to be transported, instead of 60 kilograms. Officials force people to pay for excess cargo at an inflated rate.
In general, as in other industries, in the field of customs services located on the border of Turkmenistan, violations continue, and in some places fees are growing at a high rate. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has repeatedly reported this. For example, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, numerous complaints were received from citizens of Turkmenistan against customs officers on the border with Uzbekistan and from truckers transporting goods in transit through this territory.
Turkmen Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights