MULTAN: Business community of South Punjab has slammed exorbitant charges imposed by shipping lines Maersk in terms of demurrage on importers and asked the government to take special measures for protection of importers and the economy. Illegal demurrage charges charged by M/s Maersk shipping line and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) are causing severe unrest in the business community of South Punjab. Importers of South Punjab faced blackmailing of shipping line Maersk for clearance of their legally imported shipments and they were charged unjustified demurrage charges. Importers face intentional delay in clearance of their shipments which also causes them financial losses worth millions.
It was stated by former President of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Khawaja Muhammad Usman while talking to Customs Today. Importers especially from South Punjab confront many problems in clearance of their import shipments. Business community is already operating their business in uncertain atmosphere due to hostile economic situation. Importers are attracted by the agents of shipping lines Maersk by offering discount in their clearance charges and then they are asked additional charges of demurrage along with other charges.
He said that shipping company Maersk cannot charge any demurrage and detention charges until it is not agreed between parties and mentioned on the bill of lading. M/s Maersk shipping line and Qasim International Container Terminal (QICT) are jointly violating set laws and procedures by imposing demurrage charges to importers and sacking huge revenue through blackmailing.
According to the Customs Act of 1969, Shipping Companies and port authorities cannot charge any demurrage or detention charges if Customs provides a Delay and Detention certificate to importers but reportedly even with this certificate, QICT is illegally charging demurrage amount to genuine importers and this act is open violation of Customs act.
He said that illegal demurrage charges are expensive for importers which enhance cost of imported goods and it also asserts financial pressure on business community because high demurrage costs are eroding importers confidence. Business community of South Punjab is already paying dual taxes on import shipments for the clearance after imposition of Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess (PIDC) and demurrage charges from shipment companies cause unbearable financial burden on importers.
Government should protect importers from excessive import logistics cost which affects and damages the economy. We should make sure that international norms and rules are respected in our country for favourable business conditions.
He demanded that government is responsible for regulation of shipping companies Maersk and to protect importers from exorbitant demurrage charges. Government should take strict action against M/s Maersk shipping line for charging additional demurrage charges.
Meanwhile, importers have filed application to lodge FIR against Maersk shipping line and its agents in Pakistan and QICT under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506 and others so that these fraudsters are stopped to blackmail genuine importers by demanding ‘illegal’ additional charges.
As per details, “importers, through their shipper/agents in China, handed the goods to Maersk shipping line as trust to be delivered and released here at QICT, Karachi. The Maersk shipping line nominated M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd as their agents at Karachi for delivery of goods. Importers also long back paid in full to the shipping lines the ocean freight charges as agreed between the parties. But despite repeated reminders and visiting office of M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and QICT, they did not release the goods yet”.
Importers said Maersk shipping line and its subsidiary in Pakistan, M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd are deliberately holding the containers for minting illegal money and robbing the importers.
Law under SRO 1220(I)/ 2015 explains that shipping companies cannot charge any demurrage and detention where specifically it is not agreed and also specifically not mentioned on the B/L (Bill of lading). Another section 14A of the Customs Act, 1969 says the importer cannot be forced to pay any demurrage or detention charges if Customs gives a certificate to importer called the ‘delay and detention certificate’. But despite this certificate, importers’ goods are held illegally to demand heavy amounts as demurrage.
Importers said, “The actions of Maersk shipping line and its subsidiary in Pakistan, M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Soren Skou, Claus V. Hammingsen, Soren Toft, Vincent Clercp, Morten H. Engelstoft, Arslan Khan, Gazanfar Khan, Raheem Saleem, Maqsoodul Hassan Khan, Fawad Khan, Hassan Faraz, Shakeel Masih, Umer Khan, Ali Jawad Alvi, Zafar Iqbal, Ayesha Chaudhry, Zahid Hussain, Salman Ahmad, Amir Ali, Amees Aziz Khan, Muhammad Naeem, Farheen Mahmood, Mubashir Iqbal, Yasmeen Fasih, Afaq Syed, Syed Muhammad Abbas Jafri, Muhammad Tanveer Sharif, Salman Attique, Hamza Haqq, Zyad Mahmood, Amir Ibrahim, Yasir Saeed Khan, Amal Sadiq Dawood, Captain M. A. Rahman, Iffat Mahmood, Maria Arooj, Zain Warsi, Yumna Nadeem, Mahreen Zulfiqar, Awais Saleem, Zafar Iqbal, Syed Usman Iqbal Zaidi, Anam Yaqoob, Fahad Ali, Ubaid Iqbal, Zahid Hussain, Muhammad Ali Qureshi, Danish Qureshi, Amir Arif, Arshad Ayub, Syed Mudassir Ali, Syed Hammad Hussain, Ayesha Qadri, Sheikh Samiullah, Tanveer Hassan, others and of QICT through its owners, management and staff including but not limited to Sultan Ahmad Bin Suleman, Yuvraj Narayan, Deepak Parekh, Robert Woods, Abdulla Gobash, Mark Russel, Mohammad Saif Al Sowaidi, Nadia Abdulla Kamaili, Mohammad Al Moallem, Sohail Al Banna, Rizwan Somar, Rashid Abdullah, Mohammad Al Hashimy, Junaid Zameer and others, individually and jointly, tantamount to conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating, mischief to cause losses, threatening, etc. which attract penal sections under PPC 34, 407, 409, 420, 427, 506, besides others.”
Importers said they gave goods as trust (amaanat) to Maersk shipping line, M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and QICT but their goods are held illegally to blackmail them to pay heavy amounts of charges and thus the Maersk shipping line, M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and QICT make good wealth through criminal means.
Importers confirmed that they have finally lodged application against Maersk shipping line, M/S Maersk Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd and QICT, and they are following up with the Bin Qasim police station on daily basis. The police officials assured the applicants that soon they will lodge the FIR according to law and take necessary legal action against all the accused persons involved in the mega scandal.