KARACHI: With joint efforts of FPCCI Vice President Khurram Aijaz and Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA), Customs Department fully implemented proper measures to ensure social distancing at Customs House Karachi and inside the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) branch to avoid spread of Covid-19.
Customs Today reported yesterday morning at 9am about huge rush in the building even after directives issued by the high-ups. After Customs Today news got viral on social media and reached to Customs Enforcement and Preventive high-ups in the Customs House, they immediately took action and enforced proper measures and social distancing in the building and the bank. After 11am, there were proper queues of people outside and inside the NBP branch, Customs House Karachi.
With the joint efforts of KCAA & FPCCI, the high officials of NBP including Group Head Operations visited NBP Customs House Branch and held a meeting at KCAA Camp Office to discuss the working of the branch. It has been agreed that NBP Customs House branch will be open on Saturday as well for customs duty collection and timings for collection have also been extended till 6pm from Monday to Saturday excluding Friday and till 4pm on Friday before Ramazan. The timings during Ramazan will be revised subsequently. FPCCI sent a letter on 18th March 2020 to President & Chief Executive Officer of the NBP to authorize more branches to collect duty and taxes to avoid spreading of Coronavirus. The work on authorizing additional NBP branches for customs duty collection is underway and will be communicated after conducting further deliberations. These arrangements and timings are subject to SBP consent from time to time.
On the other hand, Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) President Muhammad Yahya, General Secretary Muhammad Aamir & Joint Secretary Zahid Bashir Chaudhary played their due role in this regard. They held meetings with Customs high-ups for proper implementation of health directives regarding Covid-19 at Customs House Karachi to keep minimum presence and rush at least for next 3-4 weeks to avoid further spread of Coronavirus among Customs officials who are lifeline of the economic activity in the country.
Earlier, a PRAL employee Imran Khan tested positive for CoronaVirus recently and all officials of Customs House Karachi were advised to get tested for Coronavirus. Health department after closing entire Customs House immediately started fumigation but only after few days, a huge rush was seen early this morning in the Customs House Karachi, putting the lives of customs officials, importers and customs clearing agents at risk.
Sources told that all officials were advised to work online from their homes but junior officers did not implement the directives of senior customs officials in letter and spirit.
It is pertinent to mention here that Directorate Customs Investigation and Intelligence (I&I) Anti-Smuggling superintendent Younis Qadri was tested positive for COVID-19 recently and admitted to 1000-bed quarantine hospital established at the Expo Centre Lahore. Similarly, a female employee working in Large Taxpayer Unit (LTU) Islamabad was also found Covid-19 positive after her test.