KARACHI: The Karachi Customs Agents Association (KCAA) continued their strike for second day on Wednesday against the issuance of around 1178 Order-in-Original (ONOs) to the Customs agents in Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) scam.
During the strike, the Customs agents under the supervision of KCAA President Saifullah Khan gathered outside the Customs House Karachi and chanted slogans against Pakistan Customs. They tied black armbands during the protest. The transporters bodies including Karachi Goods Transport Association, United Goods Transport Association and others also announced their unconditional support to the strike.
On the occasion, the Customs House presented deserted look as no Customs agents and importers were present in the Customs House.
The National Bank of Pakistan, Customs House branch also abandoned work after the strike call, whereas the said NBP branch remains jam-packed in normal days.
It may be mentioned here that the office-bearers of All Pakistan Customs Agents Association (APCAA) were not seen in the gathering.
Some unpleasant scenes were also witnessed outside the Customs House when Customs agents tried to restrict some of the importers from filing their GDs on self-clearance basis despite the presence of Rangers and police.
Similar incidents of harassment by clearing agents against importers were also witnessed at Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT), Pakistan International Container Terminal (PICT) and Port Qasim Container Terminal (QICT).
It is pertinent to mention here that President KCAA Saifullah Khan during his press conference on September 6 had clearly announced that any importer can file his GD on the basis of self-clearance, but unfortunately, Customs agents forcefully restricted the importers to file GDs.
Meanwhile, Collector Model Customs Collectorate (MCC) West Muhammad Saleem during a press briefing at his office said that the doors are wide open for discussions with Customs agents.
Giving details, the Collector MCC-West said that total 918 GDs have been filed till afternoon despite the strike, adding that routine activities remained continued at all ports.
“Customs agents have legitimate right to submit an appeal against issuance of ONOs and the Pakistan Customs will give an opportunity to them for hearing their multiple show-cause notices in a single day”, he added.
On the occasion, Collector MCC-West urged the Customs agents to adopt the way of discussions, adding that the officials of Pakistan Customs have clear directives from FBR chief Tariq Bajwa to listen to the issues of Customs agents with appropriate evidences and decide such issues on merit.
“We would follow the law and directives of FBR high officials. Pakistan Customs has taken up all important issues for redressal and sent a detailed report to the FBR chief in this regard”, Collector MCC-West added.
When contacted, Chief Collector Appraisement Nasir Masroor Ahmed termed the strike of Customs agents as “illegal act” and said that they should register their protests with Collector Appeals. Being license holders of Pakistan Customs, they should not indulge themselves in such illegal acts (strikes).
“They are violating the laws and rules of Pakistan Customs and their strikes do not even affect revenue generation, but the importers may be affected from the strike of Customs agents, as they have to pay demurrage/detention charges due to late clearance of goods from terminals”, he added.
“The Pakistan Customs have called officials of Law Enforcing Agencies (LEAs) including Rangers and police in order to avoid any untoward incident during the strike, adding that if any Customs agents want to continue their routine practice to file GDs, the Customs Department will provide them appropriate security in this regard”, Chief Collector MCC Appraisement asserted.