KARACHI: The coronavirus-led lockdown has led to a piling up of import containers at the ports as importers have been unable to furnish essential documents to get their consignments cleared because of transportation difficulties.
An official at the Port Qasim told media that the importers were not filing goods declarations (GDs) because they did not have the transport available take the goods to their main destination.
“A large number of imported consignments are meant for up country are now piling up at port terminals due to absence of transportation,” the official told.
The port usually handles around 10,000 containers every day. However, the number has decreased by 30%. Despite the drop more than 6,000 containers are still landing at the ports each day, and not all of them are being cleared.
The official said traffic of vessels has slowed down, but the cargo is still coming. “There is no space at the terminal yards, and containers are now being dumped wherever the space is available,” the official said. “There is no marking or recordkeeping of these containers. After the lockdown is lifted, there would be a whole lot of mess in finding and assessing these containers.”
Sindh administration was the first to announce a lockdown in the province last month to contain the spread of coronavirus. While it exempted goods transportation from the movement ban, port operation has been disturbed as the provincial government was keeping a vigilant eye on goods going upcountry.
The government has not yet imposed a force majeure, and port operations are continuing. However, absence of transportation and non-filing of GDs by commercial importers have caused congestion at the ports.
An official at Karachi Port Trust said the port is operating efficiently. “Essential goods are being cleared and transported, while the non-essential goods are being stored separately to be cleared later.”
Government has extended the timeline for filing of goods declarations (GDs) to 25 days, which earlier was 10 days from the date of cargo arrival.
“At this point of time, customs should facilitate all terminals to obtain more space from the port authorities to discharge the cargo,” the official said.