Pakistani port terminals are facing severe congestion due to 13,000 unclaimed and confiscated cargo containers. Out of these, some 5000 containers contain toxic materials which are harmful for the environment.
This was disclosed by All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) in a document presented to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). They demanded that FBR should make a decision in this regard.
According to the document from APCAA, these containers have been piling up over the last 15 years. Karachi Port Trust and Port Bin Qasim are both operating at the maximum level, with 3 terminals working at full capacity. Collectively the terminals have a total capacity to store 122,000 TEU at a time, out of which 13,000 containers have occupied permanent place. This figure does not include the capacity at South Asia Pakistan Terminals Limited (SAPT) however.
The dormant containers come under either of these categories – unclaimed, banned, Confiscated goods, FR containers, Trans Shipment and Transit Cargo.
A senior member APCAA Arshad Jamal, who is also the author of the report, told ProPakistani that unclaimed cargo is a worldwide issue. But the issue here is the way customs deal with it in a very efficient manner, something that is missing in Pakistan.
To clear this mess, Customs do auction and sell unclaimed goods. With the help of auctions, customs can generate revenue and also set the space free. Pakistan customs must hold regular auctions of unclaimed items and containers.
The second big issue is of confiscated, banned, hazardous, toxic and environmentally-unfriendly cargo containers. These must be examined and handed over to shipping lines to transport back to their origin.
If Customs is not able to implement these 2 solutions, they should at the very least, allow moving these containers to off dock terminals.
“Container terminal operators are willing to move this unclaimed and confiscated cargo to off dock terminals at their own cost. But for that they required permission from customs,” Arshad concluded.