BY MUHAMMAD ALI
All three containers terminals in the city are unable to ensure 100 percent containers’ scanning despite having directives from the customs department, it was learnt on Wednesday.
According to sources, after discerning the possibilities of the clearance of lethal cargos (arms and ammunition) from ports in the absence of proper containers’ scanning, the customs department had directed all three terminals – Pakistan International Containers Terminal (PICT), Qasim International Containers
Terminal (QICT) and Karachi International Containers Terminal (KICT) – not to release a single container for dry-ports across the country without scanning.
However, terminal sources said that the customs department, without taking the terminal operators on board, had decided to carry out 100 percent containers’ scanning before the release of consignments for dry-ports, causing hardships for the terminal operators. They said that scanners installed at the terminals had maximum capacity to examine 100 containers in a day and 3,000 containers in a month. However, the accumulated volume of both (imports and exports) containers was around 15,000 containers per month.
They said: “We have maintained 100 percent scanning only for Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) and scanning of rest of the containers is beyond our capacity.” They said that the customs department should have taken the terminal operators on board before issuing such directives. “The decision can not be implemented due to practical impediments,” the sources added.
It may be mentioned here that a one-man Commission, appointed by the Supreme Court in the suo motu case no 16/2011 to investigate the alleged smuggling of arms and ammunition through sea and its spill-over effect on the upsurge of violence in Karachi, had recommended that all terminals should install more scanners and CCTV cameras.
The Commission in its report had said that the terminals should also be made responsible to provide the images of man and material involved in the clandestine removal of items. It was also proposed that the containers being moved from one Wharf/terminal/station to the other should be sealed properly and controlled by the officers sitting in a specially built control room.
Meanwhile, Arshad Jamal of Pakistan Economic Forum, said that the customs department had earlier issued the same directives in 2011 but it could not be materialised, due to lack of scanning capacity at the terminals. He said that the customs department instead of taking illogical decisions should restrict the terminal operators to carry out strict monitoring to avert the clearance of lethal cargos. He said that the possibilities of arms smuggling through ports could not be ruled out but this happening could be thwarted by adopting a proper mechanism like scanning of containers on profile basis.
SOURCE: BUSINESS RECORDER