KARACHI: Afghan transit trade containers are piling up at ports after government ordered 100 percent scanning of transit cargo, because terminal operators do not have the capacity to scan this much quantity of containers.
Sources said that all the container terminals have just one scanner installed, which caters for all the import consignments. The scanner at Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) is out of order since long. It may be mentioned here that container terminals, owned and operated by foreign entities, have refused to honor the requests of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Ministry of Maritime Affairs of waiving the demurrage charges.
Over 7,000 containers of transit cargo are lying at ports as the clearance and their onward transportation to Afghanistan almost stopped due to COVID-19 induced lockdown. Despite all odds, Director Transit Trade Karachi Ms. Zeba Azhar has efficiently managed to get over 70 percent scanning of transit containers.
Director General Transit Trade Sarfaraz Warraich had forwarded the procedure/measures required for re-activating transit operations at Chaman/Torkham. 100 percent scanning in respect of transit cargo arriving and already arrived at Karachi Port/Port Qasim and Chaman/Torkham was ordered.
Azam Khan and Shahid Rizvi in Karachi, Kaleemullah Wagan in Chaman and Inamullah Wazir in Torkham have been appointed as focal persons to coordinate and match the scanned images taken at ports and exit Custom stations.
In view of containers piling up at Railway Yard Chaman and NLC Yard Torkham, and hundreds of containers straned en-route to Chaman/Torkham, Director Zeba Azhar had already issued instructions to container terminals, shipping companies, Customs agents and bonded carriers to halt gate-out of transit cargo from Karachi Port and Port Qasim.
In order to avoid panic situation at the ports due to piling of un-cleared transit containers, Director Zeba Azhar directed the Assessment and Examination staff of the Directorate to conduct examination/scanning of containers and complete assessment of goods that had arrived at Karachi Port and Port Qasim, and to stop further processing after securing the insurance guarantee against goods.
FBR resumed one-way cargo traffic thrice a week on April 10, 2020 after approval of federal government subject to certain precautionary measures. However, around 20 containers are crossing the border a day, and it would take a very long time to clear the backlog.