KARACHI: Government of Germany has informed Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) that some 13 containers of NATO/ISAF reverse cargo carrying hazardous waste cleared from MCC Port Qasim received in Germany were found to be containing wooden and cement blacks instead of the cargo, sources told Customnews.pk.

It seems that the cargo including acid batteries and hazmat waste was pilfered enroute from Afghanistan to Karachi and dumped somewhere in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The containers bearing numbers TRLU5125728, CLHU8168081, TTNU9754669, SCZU3221732, TCKU9707891, CRXU9127484, HDMU4293510, MLCU9310675, TRDU0671940, EISU9821774, TTNU9197060, TCKU9414487 and YMLU4525201 were supposed to contain hazardous waste for disposal. But, the German authorities have found these containers to be filled with cement and wooden blocks.

All these containers were scanned and cleared at Qasim International container Terminal (QICT). It may be mentioned here that physical examination of NATO/ISAF cargo is prohibited. The scanners at QICT do not have the ability to identify the goods in the containers, it can only tell whether the container was empty or not.

Sources said that the absence of technical experts at Customs as well as container terminals is the reason for this dismal performance.

The Customs appraising officers are of the view that they did not aware that such containers containing cement and wooden blocks were cleared as the containers were properly scanned. It is suspected that the clearing agents were aware of this scam and they manipulated the clearance.

Directorate General of Transit Trade has recently lodged FIR against the bonded carrier and the US Consulate authorized agent for the pilferage of acid batteries (hazmat waste) of ISAF reverse cargo into Pakistan.

It may be mentioned here that US has all the advance technology and monitoring system and they keep vigilance on the movement of their cargo. However, US authorities never reported any such incident so that it could be stopped; even they never reported any of such consignment went missing or pilfered.

Directorate General of Transit Trade has recently recommended several measures to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to streamline the procedure of clearance of reverse cargo, which is exported back from Afghanistan via Karachi.

Sources said that DG Transit Trade has communicated to the Board that arrangements should be made for scanning the transit cargo at border stations for cross matching the scanned images with the scanning done at Karachi Port; the cargo moving under Customs General order 10/2012 may be subject to DEC and ANF drug checks for minimizing any chances of drug transportation. Moreover, adequate number of officers/officials should be posted in the Directorate of Transit Trade to deal with such cases effectively.

As ISAF/NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan a sizeable number of military cargo consignments are being exported from Afghanistan in transit to foreign destinations through Karachi through transport operators hired by the Office of the Defence Representative in Pakistan who are responsible for lifting of the goods from Afghanistan and their onward transportation inside the Pakistani territory.

This reverse cargo upon its entry into Pakistan undergoes weighment / inspection of seals by the Customs before allowing transit while physical examination of goods is carried out in exceptional circumstances and in the absence of scanners at entry points i.e Torkham/Chaman the cargo remains un-scanned.

The DG Transit Trade has unearthed pilferage of these reverse cargo consignments in a manner that items inside the container are replaced with bricks, cement blocks and wooden logs etc to make up for the decrease in weight with the intention to hoodwink the subsequent weighment at Karachi Port.

Some 20 officers of MCC Preventive were imparted particular training to operate the scanner at East Wharf, but no officer or official has been trained to read the images of scanners. However, they did not get respective postings or were imparted further training.

Terminals have different tech scanners, and their staff can only operate the images and forward them to Customs.

It is just the beginning and it is feared that a large number of containers would also be identified in which the cement and wooden blocks were shipped abroad instad of the hazardous waste.

According to sources, Customs have their doubts that the actual incidents of pilferage may have taken place inside Afghanistan prior to the entrance of the consignments in the Pakistani territory.

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