KARACHI: While showing its inefficiency and with the menace of corruption among the ranks, the officials at the Customs Collectorate Port Muhammad Bin Qasim (PMBQ) have allegedly cleared at least two luxury vehicles which were reported to have been stolen from the United Kingdom, it is reliably learnt.
The insiders told Customs Today that it was communicated to the Anti Smuggling Organization (ASO), Customs Collectorate Preventive that some eight luxury vehicles have reached the Port Qasim. These vehicles were stolen from various areas of the United Kingdom.
The principal appraisers and appraisers of the MCC PMBQ have started taking heavy bribes from the importers and even they cleared the stolen luxury vehicles that reached the port from UK.
Among them, the principal appraisers and appraisers and others allegedly extended their support for the clearance of these two vehicles which were later taken into custody by the officials of the ASO in Karachi while the ASO team is still busy tracing out the remaining vehicles, sources disclosed.
Moreover, the affected importers have told Customs Today that the principal appraisers and appraisers are continuously demanding heavy bribes from the importers and they are using delaying tactics which is hampering the overall business activities at the port.
The importers further stated that the importers who grease palms of the officials get their imports cleared on fast track basis however those importers who refuse to pay bribes are threatened of dire consequence by the port authorities.
The principal appraisers and appraisers are arbitrarily delaying the clearance process by multiple examinations of the consignments for three to four weeks that usually takes a day or two.
The importers also alleged that a large number of containers have been stuck at the Qasim International Containers Terminal (QICT) since past couple of days as the examination of containers is arbitrarily slowed down. The importers have time and again asked the Federal Board of Revenue and Pakistan Customs to improve the performance of its staff and stop corrupt practices. However, all went in vain as the importers are still facing difficulties.
The slow process of clearance of consignments at the PMBQ are compelling the importers to pay Rs3000 to Rs4000 per day as detention charges and the demurrages charges, Kishore, an importer told Customs Today.
The containers used to remain unattended for at least three to four days as no one neither the customs staff nor the QICT bother to examine it, he added.
Another importer, Arshad, says the detention charges and the delaying tactics had increased the cost of doing business however no heed has so far been paid to demands of the importers.
The importers have demanded Chairman FBR Tariq Pasha and Member Customs Zahid Khokhar to take stern notice of the prevailing situation and initiate investigations into the malpractices by principal appraisers and appraisers so that the importer could get a sigh of relief.
When contacted, President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shamim Firpo told Customs Today that they would initiate its internal inquiry into the matter if the chamber receives a written complaint against the port authorities.
I am unaware of the entire situation however I would ask concerned persons to check the matter and contact the importers in this connection.