President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shamim Ahmed Firpo, while referring to a recent meeting at Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to resolve the issue of Port Congestion Surcharge, said that it highly unfair on part of KPT and a matter of grave concern for the business and industrial community that Karachi Chamber, which is the largest Chamber and a major stakeholder, was totally ignored and not invited to attend the said crucial meeting despite the fact that KCCI has been constantly receiving dozens of complaints from traders each day who always seek Chamber’s assistance whenever they face any such issue.
Nevertheless, President KCCI added that although the shipping lines agreed to withdraw port congestion surcharge during the said meeting as there was no congestion at KPT and its terminals but no relief has been provided to traders as shipping lines continue to charge port congestion surcharge of $150 and $300 per container.
In a statement issued, Shamim Firpo said that traders have been constantly complaining about the unjust port congestion surcharge by shipping lines despite the recent assurance to withdraw this surcharge as traffic flow remains normal. Shipping companies were charging $300 for a 40-foot container and $150 for a 20-foot container as port congestion surcharge, resulting in raising the cost of imported goods and intensifying the hardships for traders who were already under intense burden due to exorbitant duties/ taxes and numerous other exorbitant charges by Shipping Lines, he added.
Shamim Firpo was of the view that it was highly unfair to penalize traders for inefficiencies at the ports as it is this inefficiency which causes delays in clearance of containers that will obviously result in port congestion but this was not the case as KPT authorities have categorically rejected any kind of congestions by saying that plenty of space was available and they can even provide even more space if required.
He said that currently, Pakistan’s logistics were considered to be the poorest among whole region and it was a matter of grave concern that the country stands below the global averages. “Pakistan’s 90 percent international trade is routed through sea and Karachi seaports including Karachi Port Trust and Port Qasim Authority handles 95 percent of this trade”, he informed, adding that However, the dwell time of container in Karachi is seven days which is about three times more than that in developed countries, East Asia and Europe.
President KCCI urged the authorities in Islamabad to take strict notice of the exorbitant charges by Shipping Lines and take steps to speed up the container clearance procedures, besides urging the shipping lines to immediately stop levying the unjust port congestion surcharge.