KARACHI: Importers said that Maersk shipping line, its subsidiary in Pakistan, M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) are robbing them of billions of rupees through criminal breach of trust, cheating and threatening. Importers have decided to book the shipping line and QICT in criminal cases due to which Maersk and QICT could face complete closure in Pakistan.
Importers said Maersk lines and QICT are blackmailing them through illegal holding & blocking of their imported goods for the sake of demanding additional demurrage and detention charges. “We are suffering heavily daily due to non-availability of their goods, along with reputation loss & loss of customers, etc. and also the goods quality is deteriorating daily which leads to total loss very soon if the goods are not disposed in the markets,” importers added.
Law under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 explains that shipping companies cannot charge any demurrage and detention where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of lading). Another section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 says the importer cannot be forced to pay any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer called the ‘delay and detention certificate’. But despite this certificate, importers’ goods are held illegally to demand heavy amounts as demurrage.
Customs Today correspondent when contacted the staff of Maersk shipping lines, they avoided to give any comments on the issue especially on SRO1220(I)/2015 and rules 603(q), 603(r), 604(p), 604(q) & 607(e) of the Customs Act. They even threatened the correspondent and asked him not to call them again.
Importers said in a letter to Maersk lines and QICT, “We, through our shipper/agents in China, handed the goods to Maersk shipping line as trust to be delivered and released here at QICT, Karachi. The Maersk shipping line nominated M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd as their agents at Karachi for delivery of goods. We also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and QICT, they have not issued us the delivery order/NOC without which our goods are not released to us yet. To our surprise, now they have verbally refused to release our goods and have started illegally demanding additional charges in shape of demurrage/ detention that were never agreed earlier.”
Importers said, “None of these charges of demurrage/detention as being demanded by Maersk were specifically agreed between the shipping lines and the shipper which is necessary under the law to put any such charges on us. Refer Rules 603(q), 603(r), 604(p), 604(q) & 607(e), others under SRO 1220/2015 as attached. Also the Government of Pakistan vide its certificate under section 14A has already advised you not to charge us any demurrage or detention. Both these points make your excuse of not releasing the goods under the pretext of demurrage and detention clearly illegal and also makes our FIR/ legal action against you even stronger under the law. Your actions, individually and severally, tantamount to breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, others. Your failure to release the above goods through issuance of delivery order/NOC will only compel us to take necessary legal action”.
Importers further said in the letter, “We have already approached your company Maersk Pakistan Private Limited (Pakistan office of Maersk Line) and QICT multiple times to comply to your obligation under the law to give 100% waiver for the charges including demurrage and detention as per above but your company has yet not complied to its obligations under the law to give 100% waiver to us which delay is further causing us unbearable losses. We, hence now again through this letter inform you to immediately waive 100% for the charges including demurrage and detention as per above. If you do not comply with your obligation of waving 100% charges of detention and demurrage under rules 603(q), 603(r), 604(p), 604(q) & 607(e), others under SRO1220(I)/2015 and under section 14A of the customs act 1969, then necessary legal action will be taken under the law which includes cancellation of license of Maersk Pakistan Private Limited under SRO 1220(I)/2015 and penalty on Maersk Pakistan Private Limited as also prescribed in section 156(1) 7A of the Customs Act, 1969. It is to inform you that such 100% waiver and the subsequent cancellation of the license of your company Maersk Pakistan Private Limited and penalty is not advisory in nature rather these are mandatory provisions of law which is even pressed by the usage of the word ‘Shall’ in its respective provisions”.
Importers reiterated, “If your company Maersk Pakistan Private Limited and QICT fails to immediately comply with the above mentioned mandatory provisions of law then we will be forced to lodge FIR/take legal action against all concerned parties/persons including MD, Directors, managers, staff, etc. of your company Maersk Pakistan Private Limited and Maersk Lines (the shipping lines) including Søren Skou, Claus V. Hemmingsen, Søren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, Arslan Khan, Hazanfar 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, Yasmin Fasih, Affaq Syed, Syed Mohammad Abbas Jafri, Muhammad Tanveer Sharif, Salman Ateeq, Hamza Haq, Ziad Mahboob, Aamir Ibrahim, Yasir Saeed Khan, Amal Sadiq Dawood, Capt M A Rahman, Effat Mehmood, Maria Urooj, Zain Warsi, Yumna Nadeem, 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 & Tanveer Hasan and others, and staff of QICT including but not limited to Sultan Ahmad Bin Suleman, Yuvraj Narayan, Deepak Parekh, Robert Woods, Abdulla Gobash, Mark Russel, Mohammad Saif Al Sowaidi, Nadia Abdulla Kamaili, Mohammad Al Moallem, Sohail Al Banna, Rizwan Somar, Rashid Abdullah, Mohammad Al Hashimy, Junaid Zameer and others for active connivance against the importers. It is further submitted that if we are forced to take legal action as above then all past and future costs including the legal expenses, loss of business due to non-availability of goods, interest charges on the value of the goods, etc. would also be borne by all concerned parties mentioned above”.
Sultan Ahmad Bin Suleman
Sources said if importers start filing criminal cases against Maersk lines and QICT, they would face complete closure in Pakistan as the shipping line could not then call its ships at Karachi ports. To avoid such situation, the shipping company and QICT had to abide by the law and give 100% waiver to importers under relevant Customs law and SRO 1220 (I)/2015 and stop blackmailing of importers by demanding illegal demurrage and detention charges.