KARACHI: A NATO/ISAF reverse cargo container, which is the primary evidence regarding dumping of hazardous waste in Pakistan, has reached in the custody of Directorate of Afghan Transit Trade (Customs) for examination, but none including the US/Nato authorities, clearing agent and the bonded carrier seem interested in getting this issue resolved.

The container No TRDU9936931 was dispatched from Afghanistan in October 2014 destined to Germany via Port Qasim has not reached the destination as yet despite lapse of over five months. However, concerned authorities both local and international are not interested in taking the case to its logical end, which strengthens the impression that NATO-ISAF waste is being dumped in Pakistan and certain influential/international elements want to cover the ordeal.

According to details, Hayatabad police Peshawar found the said container while it was being de-stuffed i.e. acid batteries were being removed from the container. Police found that the security guard of the consignment had been sedated.

However, due to unknown reasons Hayatabad police did not pursue the case and the container was forwarded to Port Qasim. The container was then lying idle at Port Qasim for over a month. Later, the bonded carrier, M/s Port Connection lodged an FIR at Methadar Police Station Karachi for recovery of their container. Police brought the container to the Police Station where it remained for a month.

When the Customs authorities got aware that such a container was lying at Methadar Police Station, they visited the station and directed the bonded carrier to get the container released through court and bring it to port premises for examination.

It’s been around two weeks that the subject container is lying idle in the custody of Directorate of Afghan Transit Trade Port Qasim, but none including the authorized clearing agent M/s Trade Link has appeared so far to get it examined and cleared.

It may be recalled that 13 containers of Hazmat Movement of NATO/ISAF that were cleared and reached Germany were found to contain cement and wooden blocks. But, surprisingly US/NATO authorities never made a report that their containers were being pilfered or went missing. FIRs have already been lodged that several containers were found to contain wooden and cement blocks instead of the declared goods.

It may be mentioned that the Customs authorities can not physically examine the NATO/ISAF consignments, hence there is no record that what type of goods are being transported.

It has been reported that a large quantity of arms and ammunitions of NATO/ISAF forces have made their way in the local markets and the same has also been recovered from the possession of various groups.

According to bonded carriers, the pilferage was actually being carried on in Afghanistan and the bonded carrier was not aware of the goods in the containers as they only transported the consignment.

Bonded carrier mentioned here that the process of transportation of reverse cargo to Port Qasim was quite complicated involving many transporters and warehousing, which has wide opened chances of pilferage and theft of goods.

The bonded carriers received the shipper-sealed consignments from Torkham where no scanner is installed and hence bonded carrier cannot know what was in the containers. Afghan transporter brings these containers from Qandhar to Jalalabad where these consignments are offloaded at a locally owned warehouse. These containers are kept at that warehouse for months from where another local transporter brings these to Torkham and handover these to bonded carrier.

Bonded carrier noted that the Afghan transporters were well aware of all the loopholes and they knew that Jamrod scanner installed by NLC could not scan the high-cubed containers and they were involved in the pilferage.

On the other hand, Customs authorities are of the view that bonded carriers were only responsible to safely transport the goods and there were ample evidence that the pilferage and dumping of waste was being carried out in Pakistan in an organized manner.

Customs authorities added that the bonded carriers were pinning the scam on Afghan nationals to save their skin as there was no evidence to substantiate their claims.