MULTAN: Ministry of Ports and Shipping must take concrete action against a few shipping companies to stop their blackmailing and collecting unreasonable demurrage and detention charges. Despite extensive coverage and unearthing of the scam by Customs Today and other media houses, the government has not yet taken any action against law violators.
While talking to Customs Today, Advocate Sher Zaman Qureshi said Pakistan has established accountability institutions aimed at implementing mechanisms for preventing, detecting, punishing, and eradicating corrupt acts in the country but a few shipping companies are continuously violating set laws. Their corruption is causing serious obstacles to development in the country.
He said blackmailing of a few shipping to demand exorbitant demurrage and detention charges should be stopped and they are openly violating SRO 1220(I)/ 2015. He said that 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) but shipping companies are compelling genuine importers to pay excess charges in shape of detention charges.
He said a few shipping companies are operating like a mafia and they create unnecessary delays in the clearance of shipments by making lame excuses. Even importers are blackmailed which are issued delay and detention certificate from Customs.
According to Section 14-A of the Customs Act, 1969, importers 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.
Sher Zaman said genuine importers are facing harassment and financial blackmailing for clearance of their shipments and this situation also compels genuine importers to stop clearance of their shipments in order to avoid from blackmailing of shipping companies. He said newly elected government should take notice of the situation as it always emphasized upon rooting out corruption by promoting transparency in the country.
He said that several importers also raised the issue of additional demurrage and detention charges collected by a few shipping companies but Ministry of Port and Shipping did not take any action in this regard. Undue detention and demurrage charges increase cost of business unnecessarily, putting financial burden on importers.
He expressed that government must encourage the importers and exporters by eliminating hurdles to enhance clearance from Karachi ports.