KARACHI: For the first time since lockdown, Ministry of Maritime Affairs has advised shipping companies and their agents to waive container detention charges and other charges in connection till April 30, 2020, as already done by shipping companies in the region. Ministry of Maritime Affairs is receiving requests from the trading community regarding their inability to evacuate cargo timely from the port areas due to the lock-down imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. “As we all are aware Pakistan is facing an unprecedented challenge in the form of COVID-19 and with the resultant slowdown in the economy the vulnerable segment of society will take the brunt. The need of the hour is to provide maximum relief to the business community as is already being done by the shipping companies in the region,” Ministry noted in a letter to All Pakistan Shipping Association (APSA) and Pakistan Ships’ Agents Association (PSAA). In this spirit of facilitation for the business community Ministry of Maritime Affairs has already extended the free period at Karachi Port. “In order to contain escalation of an already challenging economic situation Ministry of Maritime Affairs deems it appropriate to request the shipping lines not to charge container detention charges and other charges in connection with late delivery of goods for the period from 25th March to 30th April, 2020,” it read. The Ministry noted this would certainly give an impetuous to seaborne trade and is likely to restart the logistical supply chain in Pakistan which is the need of the hour in these difficult times. “It is expected that such concessions will also bode well for shipping operations as cargo and freight movement offshore as well as inland will pick up,” Ministry noted. An official said the shipping companies were foreign entities and transferred all their earnings out of Pakistan, but they never facilitated and supported their customers in Pakistan. The official said there had been no law under which the affairs of shipping companies and terminal operators could be regulated. The shipping companies and terminal operators are part of FPCCI and KCCI, but still they disregard requests and proposals of FPCCI and KCCI.