MULTAN: Business community is compelled to pay illegal demurrage and detention charges due to blackmailing of shipping companies including M/s Maersk Pakistan and terminal operator Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) for clearance of genuine shipments. Collection of unreasonable demurrage and detention charges by shipping companies creates serious issues for importers.
It was stated by renowned importer and businessman of South Punjab Haji Muhammad Atta-ur-Rehman against collection of illegal demurrage and detention by M/s Maersk shipping line and QICT while talking to Customs Today.
He said that few shipping companies are looting huge amounts from importers by collecting illegal demurrage and detention charges on clearance of import shipments. Collection of unjustified demurrage and detention charges levied by M/s Maersk Pakistan and QICT from importers of South Punjab has been raised several times but authorities have not taken any action against them.
He said that business community of South Punjab has been receiving complaints from importers against Maersk and QICT for collecting baseless demurrage and detention charges through blackmailing. He said that importers of South Punjab are compelled to pay additional charges through blackmailing for the immediate handling of import shipments and if genuine importers refuse to pay illegal charges then they face unnecessary delay in the clearance of import shipments.
He said importers are suffering heavy losses on daily basis for the clearance of shipments due to unnecessary delay in the release of imported goods which also cause them unfair demurrage and detention charges. He said that importers are also losing their reputation and their valuable customers due to unnecessary delay in the clearance of shipments. Shipping companies are causing delay in the clearance of shipments with involvement of port authorities by slowing down clearance process for the collection of additional demurrage and detention charges.
He expressed that shipping companies are looking for collection of revenue through legal and illegal means in the country. Shipping companies are openly collecting demurrage and detention charges from importers through violation of rules and regulations.
He said that several importers and their clearing agents have raised issue of illegal demurrage and detention charges but the authorities failed to take any serious action against these shipping companies.
Shipping companies cannot charge any demurrage and detention charges from importers under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of lading) but these companies are blackmailing genuine importers to pay excess charges in shape of demurrage and detention charges.
According to the Customs Act of 1969, Shipping Company and port authorities cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs provides a Delay and Detention certificate to importers but allegedly even with this certificate Shipping company M/s Maersk shipping line and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) are illegally charging demurrage amount to genuine importers without any justification. Collection of unjustified demurrage and detention charges from importers is causing severe unrest in the business community and spoiling business environment. Government should take strict notice against M/s Maersk Shipping Line and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) to protect importers from their blackmailing.
He demanded of the Shipping Ministry to maintain consistent regulatory framework for the shipping companies to save importers from their blackmailing.