Racking up the bill: Thousands of NATO containers stranded

Published: July 24, 2012
There are 3,851 vehicles and 1,983 containers belonging to Nato currently stranded at the KPT. PHOTO: FILE

There are 3,851 vehicles and 1,983 containers belonging to Nato currently stranded at the KPT. PHOTO: FILE


The ban on Nato supplies routes through Pakistan may have officially been lifted three weeks ago but the containers carrying goods for international forces stationed in Afghanistan remain stranded at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT).

The cargo has stood there for almost eight months now.

According to KPT General Manager (Operations) Rear Admiral Azhar Hayat, not a single container or vehicle of Nato supplies has left the KPT premises since July 3, when Pakistan officially reopened the ground lines of communication.

Islamabad had blocked Nato supplies on November 26, 2011, after the killing of two dozen soldiers in a Nato-led air raid on the Salala border post.

“There has been no clearance of Nato cargo at KPT so far, but we expect the process will begin in the current week,” Hayat told The Express Tribune adding there was no hindrance on the part of the KPT as consignees needed to get their cargoes cleared from the customs department.

There are 3,851 vehicles and 1,983 containers belonging to Nato currently stranded at the KPT.

When the supply routes were resumed some three weeks ago, port authorities expected to receive up to Rs2.2 billion from Nato for storing its containers and vehicles for an extended period of time. Known as demurrage charges, the expected amount has now exceeded Rs2.5 billion, according to Hayat.

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. “However, the process is likely to take more time now, as productivity levels drop slightly during Ramazan, especially in government-run organisations,” he explained.

Moreover, the KPT has not entertained any vessels carrying Afghanistan-bound cargo in the last three weeks. Hayat offered no comment when asked about the possible reason for the delay on the part of Nato authorities to get their cargoes released from the KPT.

While talking to The Express Tribune two weeks ago, Hayat had said that the delay in Nato’s cargo clearance at the KPT was because it first wanted to clear supplies that were still on the highways or stranded on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Besides the KPT, incoming Nato containers are also handled at Port Qasim by the Karachi International Container Terminal (KICT) — a container terminal operator based within Port Qasim with five berths of its own.

When contacted, the spokesperson for Port Qasim was unavailable, and no one else from the KICT gave comments.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Cautious
    Jul 24, 2012 - 4:40AM

    Yeah right — seize someone’s property and then charge them demurrage — it’s called theft in the rest of the World.Recommend

  • Shah
    Jul 24, 2012 - 5:23AM



  • Aamir, Toronto
    Jul 24, 2012 - 6:23AM


    People like you will continue to do the mouth barking, do you really realize the suffering of those families who lost their loved ones during the deadliest attack…..shame on you for being so ruthless.


  • Pasha-Nirasha
    Jul 24, 2012 - 7:03AM

    A small threat to cut aid will magically clear the backlog in record time.


  • Random
    Jul 24, 2012 - 7:49AM

    @ cautious – you seem to have short memory. Rewind 20 years and story was opposite. US declined to deliver Pakistan f-16 planes which were already paid for for 10 years and charged storage charges.

    But hey you in US can do anything you wish and the rest of the world has to follow different rules.


  • Ali
    Jul 24, 2012 - 8:03AM

    @Cautious, If you remember, in the 90s, Pakistan purchased F-16s from the US but these were never delivered. Pakistan was supposed to pay the charges for storing these F-16s in the US. So essentially, Pak paid for a product, the product was never delivered, and Pakistan was supposed to pay the charges for storage too!

    PS: would be nice if you get off your high horses and research a bit before posting a comment!


  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jul 24, 2012 - 9:43AM

    Why are you so contemptous? Its a purely administrative matter. No one sized any container. Once the route was blocked all supplies at port were at owners risk. The same would have been done at any port in the world. The port authorities are not concerned with political reasons. Nobody is exempted from storage charges. After all ports container handling capacity was blocked for 8 months.
    However USA can appeal the charges or reduction threof on govt. to govt. basis. Anyway just to put matters in perspective, the storage charges for 8 months amount to 25 Million $ compared to 100 Million $ spent extra per month on alternate routes.


  • ahmed sohail
    Jul 24, 2012 - 10:11AM

    Lets resume after ramzaan no one wants to work now.


  • mohan
    Jul 24, 2012 - 11:43AM

    This is what is called hunting with the hounds and running with the hare! The Pakinstanis are past masters in this art!


  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jul 24, 2012 - 2:07PM

    Dear Mohan (Piarey Mohan) why do you need to expose your shallow / prejudiced mind by posting such senseless / irrelevant comments. You could have checked with your own port authorities. Even if there is a truck strike and importer cannot lift his cargo the storage charges are not waived. Same thing happened with Pakistan’s F 16’s.
    The warehouse damn cared about geopolitical games USA was playing with Pakistan and kept on adding storage charges.


  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 24, 2012 - 6:55PM

    Whenever free is stopped some people cry why no more free. Pay and get is throughout the world. Do the same in Pakistan please.


  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 24, 2012 - 6:59PM

    @ahmed sohail:
    Has any one heard slow working during new year and crismis, every nation have it’s slow and normal productive days, Pakistan is no exception.


  • Dr Meekal Ahmed
    Jul 24, 2012 - 8:34PM

    @Mohd Butt:


    What’s that?

    Actually, living in the west I have NOT observed “slow working” (where did you learn your English from?). The newspaper are delivered, shops are open late with special sales, but some places to eat may close down early to allow their people to attend church services and be with family.

    The airlines and railways by the way operate on a NORMAL schedule.

    The only places where life comes to a complete halt is in the Muslim world because everyone pretends to be fasting. The Arabs are known to sleep all day and only emerge after Iftar to cruise the streets and honk their horns. For them, by the way, the holy month is a month of celebration. Unlike us, who walk around like zombie’s with long, suffering faces and do NO work.


  • Sexton Blake
    Jul 24, 2012 - 9:12PM

    Dear Cautious,
    You might also have heard in much of the world that when you kill innocent people it is called murder, but that does not appear to worry CentCom as it routinely sends drones and fighter bombers over Pakistan. Also, in my suburb you do not pay token amounts, but have to really pay out when you damage private property, and if it is done deliberately the fines are extremely large, and you go to prison. I would say that Pakistan is being very generous towards the U.S./NATO combo, wouldn’t you? Oh, and I almost forgot. If you do not pay any government body on time the amount due increases, and accumulated interest is charged.


  • GS@Y
    Jul 24, 2012 - 9:18PM

    @ Dr Meekal Ahmed:

    Making fun of Mohd Butt’s English was in very bad taste. Sometimes people don’t have the foreign language skills to express the thought or idea they have. That doesn’t take away from the intrinsic worth of those thoughts or ideas. So long as you can understand what a person is saying, you can try and respond to their opinion as best as you can. I doubt you would make similarly scathing remarks about a European’s English. Please liberate yourself from this debilitating colonial hang up.


  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jul 24, 2012 - 9:27PM

    @Dr Meekal Ahmed:
    Dear Meekal Sb
    I am a great fan of yours regarding your articles on economic issues. It really pained me to see a man of your stature swooping down on a stray / totally irrelevant remark and waste your precious time.


  • Jul 24, 2012 - 9:38PM

    you are just tailking about money but the most important concern is national security of pakistan which is at stake by these containersRecommend

  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 25, 2012 - 12:34AM

    @Dr Meekal Ahmed:
    Dear dr. Few yards from where they teach English like do No Work.
    So every country, nation must work, live like west? Only that way is correct? What’s wrong if they live the way they like, and they celebrate the month of ramadan. Their values are different than your west. I don’t see any of the services you mentioned above are disturbed in any Muslim world. This only difference is that you justified their church and family gathering action and Muslim actions are not justified.
    Still love you,


  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 25, 2012 - 12:39AM

    I never claimed that I know English but iPad keep writing what I don’t mean to, any way as you said correctly it is established no correction of spelling, use your brain, imagination if you have them to understand what is being said, otherwise God beless you. Love you all.


  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 25, 2012 - 12:45AM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    Great admirer or just buttering, post link of any of his recent artical to see what does he write about, be quick my time is precious also.


  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jul 25, 2012 - 5:45PM

    @Mohd Butt:
    Dear Butt Sahib. Your comment is not in good taste. I criticized Mr Meekal for commenting on work ethics during Christmas / Ramzan in West and Muslim countries being irrelevant to the topic i.e “Demurrage Charges on Nato Containers by KPT”. Now you are asking me to do the same i.e comment on the credentials / contributions of Mr Meekal the economist. Since it is more irrelevant, I won’t do it. Recommend

  • Mohd Butt
    Jul 26, 2012 - 6:07PM

    @Hasan Mehmood:
    Thanks for bing nice to make your point, however if you can ignore my misspelled english, then read my comments that west way is not the only way of life, yes they are more discipline but their life style and society is a package deal, one specific example can not be classified as all.
    We pay demurrage whatever is the reason and who ever is the reason, port authority got nothing to do with it. They simple apply the rule and ask for demurrage to be paid. It is universally implemented and accepted. Why not in Pakistan, our due rights are denied and then the giving is converted in to grand and asked to be obliged.
    I really respect west and America and even love them as they are but I do have my right to ask the way I like to live and work as society.
    I do respect Mr. Meekal if he has contribution to the economic however one should not be critisied by miss spell, who know what some one’s speciality and accomplishment are? At The end i must say NATO must pay demurrage.


  • Hasan Mehmood
    Jul 26, 2012 - 6:36PM

    @Mohd Butt:

    I agree with you as follows:

    Irrelevance of spelling mistakes 100% (Only the thought is important)
    Demurrage charges 100% (See my earlier comments)
    Life style / Work ethics of WEST 50% (They may have other lifestyle faults, but their sense of
    duty is much better)

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