KARACHI: Government has notified that all port and Customs operations including imports, exports and allied functions being essential service would continue for 15 days starting March 24, 2020.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs has also advised provincial governments to declare ports, Pakistan National Shipping Company (PNSC) and maritime related personnel as essential services to deal with current emerging situation of COVID-19.
Ministry of Maritime Affairs is of the view that if the ports and marine activities are curbed, then the country would come to gridlock and there would be shortage of everything including medicines, medical supplies, edibles and petroleum products.
“This will further aggravate the existing Corona Virus threat with severe social and economic implications,” a notification noted.
The importers said they were facing troubles in doing their job as they had been barred from entering the Customs House. “Although the ports are operational, but clearance of imported cargo has stopped as Customs agents are not exempted from traveling restrictions,” an importer Munawar Umar said.
“If the importers and agents can’t open their offices and travel to Custom house, then there is no point in continuing the port operations. There will be extreme congestion at the ports, if Customs agents are not facilitated in doing their job”.
The agents are of the view that import cargo has to go to all parts of the country, and export cargo has to come to port from all over the country, and it is important that Customs agents are allowed to travel on roads and permitted to enter Customs House.
Keeping in view the hardships being faced by export-oriented industries, the Attestation Department of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), which is responsible for issuing the ‘Certificate of Origin’, will remain partially open with limited staff throughout the lockdown period in order to facilitate the documentation requirements of the exporters.