Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Muffasar Atta Malik, while expressing deep concern over sheer blackmailing by shipping lines, their agents in connivance with Terminal Operators, stated that the Karachi Chamber has been constantly receiving a lot of complaints against many Shipping Lines, their Agents and Terminal Operators involved in taking unjustified demurrage and detention charges from importers under various heads.
In a statement issued, Muffasar Malik pointed out that these shipping lines with the help of some black sheep are robbing businessmen to the tune of billions of rupees per year which is really worrisome. He urged the government to take strict notice of the highhandedness of shipping lines, their agents, and terminal operators responsible for fearlessly looting the business community.
He said that importers are usually trapped by offering low rates by the agents of numerous shipping companies at the initial stage but when the shipment task is given to the shipping lines, they don’t release the goods and demand exorbitant Terminal Handling Charges (THC), Demurrage and Detention Charges along with many hidden and unexplained charges.
Referring to relevant laws, President KCCI pointed out 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 this law is grossly being violated by shipping lines and their agents.
He said that according to the Customs Act, 1969, the port cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer titled ‘Delay and Detention Certificate’. But despite this certificate, Terminal Operators illegally hold goods of importers and charges heavy amounts as demurrage.
President KCCI pointed out that importers are suffering heavy losses each day because of delays in the release of imported goods, besides losing their reputation and also their valuable customers on many occasions.
In order to put an end to the highhandedness of shipping lines, agents and terminal operators, he stressed the need to establish an independent regulatory body which could promptly respond to the grievances of the business community. He added that the body should be directed to monitor the overall activities and excessive charges of Shipping lines, agents and terminal operators.
He said that the Karachi Chamber will keep on raising a strong voice at all available platforms until the desperately needed regulatory body comes to existence. “KCCI will strive hard to highlight the grievances being faced by ship users and take up their issues with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs in order to get them resolved as per aspirations of the business community”, he added.