Pakistan’s business community urged private terminal operators to comply with government appeals and announce some relief on terminal charges on stranded containers at their dock for want of a letter of credit realisation. President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, while appreciating the spirit shown by Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Port Qasim Authority (PQA) by waiving demurrage charges, urged all Terminal Operators and Shipping Lines to adopt the same by sharing the burden of heavy demurrage and detention charges with the business community so that thousands of stranded containers could be released at the earliest which would lead to normalising almost stagnant trade, industrial and economic activities.
In a statement issued today, President KCCI pointed out that barely around 5 to 10 percent of containers were stuck at the state-owned KPT and PQA while the rest of the 90 percent of containers were lying at the private terminals have already been requested by the government to relinquish their demurrage charges. At the same time, Shipping Lines must also relax in detention charges so that the hardships faced by the business community during the ongoing difficult times could be minimised.
“We fully understand that Private Terminals and Shipping Lines are also businesses which are operating at a very hefty cost to make earnings in an extremely challenging environment, but it was not necessary to generate maximum profits all the time, so they must forgo some portion of their profitability for once which would certainly prove beneficial for their businesses in the long run and further cement the existing ties with their customers. “It is neither the business community’s nor the terminal operators’ or Shipping Lines’ fault, but we all must realise the gravity of the situation as our country is facing severe foreign reserves crises and a battle for survival is currently underway, so we all need to work collectively and share each other’s burden during these difficult times so that businesses and the economy stay afloat.”
He stressed that the government should also pressure Shipping Lines and Terminal Operators to give one-time waivers in demurrage and detention charges as they must understand that this amount was coming to them as extra profit because, under normal circumstances, containers do not stay for that long and do not attract that kind of a windfall; hence, the Shipping Lines and Terminal Operators must understand that it was an extraordinary situation wherein they should not be charging something which was not according to their normal profitability. “One has to realise that this money would not have been billed in normal circumstances; therefore, they should forgo it, and relief has to be given as, in many cases, the value of goods inside the container is less than these charges”, he added.
President KCCI further commented that the disaster witnessed at the ports was purely an outcome of ill-considered policies implemented hastily without consultation with stakeholders. “The government must learn from mistakes and accordingly take steps in consultation with stakeholders so that such occurrences could be avoided in future”, he added. Considering the extraordinary situation, Tariq Yousuf hoped that the Terminal Operators and Shipping Lines would announce the required relief in terms of waiver in demurrage and detention charges for the perturbed business community members at the earliest, which would be widely welcomed.