KARACHI: The meeting pertaining to delay in container grounding at port terminals held under the chair of Director General Ports and Shipping has advised KICT to increase the free period of the consignment from 5 days to 14 days as per the practice by all other terminals.

The meeting also decided that the general tariff of various charges/fees at the port terminals must be displayed on large boards in both Urdu and English for the facilitation of general public; while the comparative statements of rates/demurrages charges of all the port terminals will be forwarded to the Directorate General of Ports and Shipping.

Director General Ports and Shipping emphasized that the problems at the terminals could only be addressed and resolved when all stakeholders positively and willingly join hands in resolving the issues particularly container grounding and handling.

Representatives of Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Port Qasim Authority (PQA), Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT), Karachi international Container Terminal (KICT), Qasim international Container Terminal (QICT) and Chamber of Commerce attended the meeting.

DG Ports & Shipping underlined the grievances of Afghan Traders expressed in a high level meeting with Ministry of Commerce that discriminatory charges are being levied on Afghan Traders at the port facilities (terminals) of Pakistan.

The Chamber of Commerce mentioned that they do not agree to the replies of port terminals in the case of delay in container grounding.

PICT informed the meeting that various charges at the port facilities are nominal and more or less the same at all container terminals.

QICT clarified that the claims of Chamber of Commerce were very occasional and the reason behind the delay was that sometimes due to delay in submission of Goods Declaration (GD} by the importer. Another reasons stated by them which causes this delay is the procedure of Customs Authorities as sometimes they reground the containers for reexamination. They further stated that the back log created due to accumulation of containers is also not in the interest of the terminal as they have to meet their

Key Performance indicators, which compel them to achieve the target of completion of grounding process within two days. In response to the claim of Chamber of Commerce that they bear demurrage charges which exceed the actual value of the goods, QICT clarified that whenever an application of waiver is submitted, it is honored and the traders are facilitated.

Another important point of discussion was that the general tariff charges must be made public and notified for the guidance of the traders.

KICT said that delays occasional and generally the process of container grounding are completed within 24 hours.

DG Ports and Shipping pointed out that the display of fees and various charges at the terminal must also exhibited in the local language so that every trader understands and the general public may be facilitated.

The representative from Chamber of Commerce expressed concerns on the delay of container grounding which sometimes extends up to 10 days as a result of which heavy demurrage charges have to be paid by the traders and conveyed the grievances of the importers and exporters of Pakistan.

Terminal authorities clarified that the delays are seasonal occasions like Eid and sometimes they are caused by the detailed examination of items which takes time.

Terminal operators advised the Chamber of Commerce to approach the operators directly and objectively point out the case so that exact reason is communicated.