Customs agents at Torkham strike as authorities come hard on mis-declaration

PESHAWAR: Customs agents at Torkham have threatened to observe a boycott of trade at Torkham border after Customs authorities installed weighment bridge and examination of consignments, which effectively ended wrongdoings on part of these Customs agents and their associates.

On the directives of Member Customs Tariq Huda, Collector MCC Peshawar Muhammad Saleem and Collector Preventive Khalil Yousafani had the weighment bridge fixed at the border. Earlier there was no weighment bridge and Customs had to rely on the claims of traders and Customs agents.

Sources said one or two Customs agents along with large number of laborers were observing a strike. It was known that Customs agents at Torkham and laborers had made an arrangement wherein these laborers applied for weighment of the consignments in the name of random Customs agents, and when the wrongdoings were detected the Customs agents disowned these laborers.

Moreover, these laborers roamed freely in the trading hall although they do not have the Form-G. it may be mentioned here that with WeBOC system operational there is no need of Customs agents or their associates entering the trading hall.

Now that authorities have tightened the vigilance and streamlined the system, mis-declaration and smuggling cannot go undetected, which has irked these Customs agents and certain traders whom relied on illegitimate trade.

Goods worth billions of rupees are stuck-up in Afghanistan. These goods are imported under Afghan Transit Trade and then the same are smuggled back into Pakistan.

Pakistan government closed the borders with neighboring country in the pretext of COVID-19 as well as a part of anti-smuggling drive. Due to these developments, high value goods including chemicals, tyres, cloth, electronics, etc cannot find their way back into Pakistan.

Moreover, the authorities started 100 percent scanning of all Afghan transit trade goods to avoid mis-declaration. Earlier, around 300 containers under Afghan transit trade were cleared every day, but now due to 100 percent scanning this number is reduced to around 120 containers per day.

The closing of borders as well as scanning of containers has caused unrest among traders/smugglers. Smugglers and traders are pressurizing the authorities to open the borders so that these goods could be cleared and imported back in Pakistan.  KPK and Baluchistan Chambers are demanding for amnesty scheme to import these goods back into Pakistan.

It may be recalled several Customs officers and officials were suspended and facing inquiries in the case of hundreds of containers clearing from Torkham station and NLC Terminal without filing of GD and payment of duty taxes. Sources said it was all due to this mafia of Customs agents and smugglers aided by certain officers that many innocent officers/officials were facing inquiries and FIRs.


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