In spite of formal announcements regarding the reopening of Nato supply routes a week ago, the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has yet to begin the process of clearing Nato’s cargo, a KPT official has revealed.
Talking to The Express Tribune, KPT General Manager (Operations) Rear Admiral Azhar Hayat has said the seven-month cargo backlog of Nato supplies at the port has seen no activity since last Tuesday, when Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira announced the reopening of Nato supply lines.
“There has been no cargo movement at the KPT as far as Nato supplies are concerned. There has been no roadblock from our side though: they can get their containers and vehicles released after fulfilling procedural requirements anytime,” Hayat clarified.
There are about 3,851 vehicles and 1,983 containers belonging to Nato currently stranded at the KPT. At the average rate of 250 units per day, port authorities estimate it will take them roughly 24 days to clear the backlog, according to the KPT official.
The KPT already expects to receive up to Rs2.2 billion from Nato as demurrage charges for storing the latter’s containers for the last seven months.
Hayat added that the KPT has not entertained any vessels carrying Afghanistan-bound cargo over the previous week. As for tracking the arrival of more Nato supplies in the near future, he stated that a typical vessel carried the cargos of more than one buyer.
“I believe the reason for the delay in Nato’s cargo clearance at KPT is that perhaps they first want to clear supplies that are still on the highways, or stranded on the Afghan-Pakistan border,” he said.
His comments seem to carry weight, as enhanced customs scrutiny of Nato supplies is likely to take some time. Talking to the media a few days after the announcement of resumption in ties with Nato, the spokesman for Karachi Customs had said that although his department scanned Nato containers randomly in the past, every container would be duly scanned from now on – in view of parliamentary guidelines that restrict the transport of lethal supplies across the Afghan border.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.
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