ISLAMABAD: Customs Today has been raising the issue of delay in clearance process at Karachi ports since last several years and finally the Economic Coordination Committee in its meeting directed the formation of a committee headed by Minister for Ports & Shipping Ali Haider Zaidi to bring up proposals for prompt and efficient cargo clearance at ports.
According to details, the nexus of some Customs staff, port terminals like QICT along with its parent company DP World, Port Qasim and shipping lines like Maersk Line along with its agent Maersk Pakistan Private Limited, including its owners, managers & staff are allegedly involved in such irregularities at Karachi ports where import consignments are deliberately delayed to make illegal money through malpractice. Now the ECC has taken notice of these irregularities at ports and directed to form a committee to ensure prompt clearance of cargo at ports.
Reportedly, some directors of holding company of QICT Pakistan Limited are Indians who have been handling Indian Ports in the past like Rizwan Sultanali Soomar and Devang Mankodi. This implies that QICT Port of Pakistan is controlled by Indians. Ports are highly sensitive and strategic assets of Pakistan which cannot be given in the hands of nationals of hostile countries.
Sources said illegal appointment of Indians at Pakistan’s strategic sea port Qasim International Containers Terminal (QICT) could pose security threat to the country. Indians are spying on the QICT as it is controlled by M/s DP World Group with 75% shares and, many of the management staff and directors of board are Indian nationals. Through such a discreet control of the QICT, Indians could achieve their alleged nefarious activities to destroy peace and stability in Pakistan.
After such irregularities by shipping companies, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in its Regional Board Meeting (RBM) authorised inquiry to ascertain role of 65 officials of QICT and M/s Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd in country’s biggest Ports & shipping scandal involving 610 billion rupees.
The complaint received by the NAB said, “Firstly, customs department delays goods of majority of containers that arrive in red channel. 80% of the goods cleared in red channel take a duration which is more than the free days provided by the port terminals. Hence, the port terminals take huge amounts from the importers on each consignment thus delayed. These shipping lines also force the importers to pay huge illegal sums. All these three: the customs staff, port terminals, shipping lines as mentioned above delay the clearance and delivery of the goods to the importer. Due to this delay, the revenue collection of duty and taxes is slowed down drastically of the actual speed. Like where these goods were to be cleared and delivered in 2 days then it takes an average of 20 days to clear and deliver.”
The complaint received by the NAB said, “The total revenue collection by customs department is Rs. 610 billion. If the process of revenue collection is not slowed down by the above-mentioned parties then at least the revenue collections could be doubled. Hence, total loss to national exchequer due to above nexus and illegal acts of the subject accused is Rs. 610 billion”.
“The port terminals and shipping lines blackmail and harass the importer to collect hundreds of thousands of rupees per single consignment. Since this is illegal money demanded from the citizens of Pakistan and hence it can be termed as an ‘extortion’ amount,” the complaint said.
The complaint said, furthermore, under rules 603 (Q), 603 (R), 604 (Q) and 607 (E), others of SRO 1220 (I)/2015, the shipping lines cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges where it is not specifically written on the B/L. But still in violation of these rules and laws, the shipping lines fearlessly hold the containers of the importers and charge them exorbitant detention charges. These detention charges even exceed the actual cost of container by a whopping 1,000%!
The complaint received by the NAB demanded legal action for recoveries of amounts looted and recovering losses of Rs. 610 billion to the national exchequer per year while also stopping such further losses from the accused persons of these companies including Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, others of Maersk Line; Arslan Khan, Gazanfar Khan, Raheel Salim, Maqsood Ul Hasan Khan, Fuad Khan, Hasan Faraz, Shakeel Masih, Omer Khan, Ali Jawad Alvi, Zafar Iqbal, Ayesha Chowdhry, Zahid Hussain, Salman Ahmad, Aamir Ali, Umais Aziz Khan, Mohammed Naeem, Farheen Mahmud, Mubasshar Iqbal, Affaq Syed, Syed Mohammad Abbas Jafri, Muhammad Tanveer Sharif, Salman Ateeq, Hamza Haq, Ziad Mahboob, Aamir Ibrahim, Yasir Saeed Khan, Amal Sadiq Dawood, Effat Mehmood, Maria Urooj, Zain Warsi, Mehreen Zulfiqar, Awais Saleem, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Osman Iqbal Zaidi, Anum Yaqub, Fahad Ali, Obaid Iqbal, Zahid Hussain, Muhammad Ali Qureshi, Danish Siddiqui, Amir Arif, Arshad Ayub, Syed Mudassir Ali, Syed Hammad Hussain, Ayesha Qadri, Sheikh Samiullah, others of M/S Maersk Pakistan Private Limited; Yuvraj Narayan, Deepak Parekh, Robert Woods, Abdulla Ghobash, Mark Russell, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Nadya Abdulla Kamali, Mohammed Al Muallem, Suhail Al Banna, Rizwan Soomar, Mathew Leech, Abdulla Bin Damithan, Devang Mankodi, Rashid Abdulla, Mohammad Al Hashimy, Habibullah Khan, Nusrat Khan, Aly Khan, Junaid Zamir, Changaz Hassan Niazi, Farhan Mithani, Masoud Noori, Mohammad Al Mannaei, Omer Al Mohairi, Cyrus R Khursigara, Shahid Iqbal, Uzair Qureshi, Fasih Haider, Faraz Aziz, Abdul Aleem Mirza, Saad Zulfiqar and others of DP World/ QICT Ltd.