APTMA Senior Vice Chairman Zahid Mazhar urged the government of Sindh to use their good offices to resolve the issue which flared up following the Sindh High Court’s order to ban the heavy traffic within the city, resulting in heavy financial losses. Export worth Rs 6 billion is getting affected on a daily basis.
The vice chairman said that as per the report, over 31,000 cargo containers were stuck at all four terminals of seaports. Now, the terminals are getting choked due to the arrival of import consignments during the last few days and the transporters are not ready to lift the export consignments. He said that the trade deficit from July 2016 to April 2017 has already jumped to $26.555 billion from $18.951 billion of the corresponding period of the last financial year i.e. an increase of 40.12 per cent and if this trend will continue, trade deficit for the current financial year would reach to a record level of about $32 billion.
Mr Mazhar said that if the strike is not called off, the industry may lose their export orders due to delayed shipping, resulting in buyers shifting to our competitors in the region, leading to a closure of our factories. Similarly, import consignments are also stuck-up at the ports due to which we are facing a severe shortage of raw materials which will also lead to the closure of industrial units. Closure of mills would not only affect the economy and the exchange earnings but would also increase unemployment.
Mazhar demanded the Sindh government to take notice and protect the industrial and transport activity of the city by seeking immediate attention and directions from the honourable Sindh High Court for chalking out a plan regarding the movement of heavy traffic so that import and export consignments reach their destinations on time and the exporters and importers do not suffer heavy financial losses. He further demanded the Sindh government to use the infrastructure cess imposed on transportation of import and export cargos to develop routes for the heavy traffic and also requested the ports to waive the demurrages on imported consignments stuck-up at the ports due to the strike of the transporters.
At least Rs 600,000 vehicles carry goods from the port city to other parts of the country. “Import and export activities are being sabotaged and due to this strike, there are piles of containers stuck on the port,” said Petron in Chief of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) S M Muneer.
Containers of rice, textile products, leather, fruit, vegetables, readymade garments and other goods worth billions are stuck since days and actions by authorities are long awaited.
On the directions of Sindh High Court on a case of heavy traffic jams on Karachi’s roads due to heavy traffic, the traffic authorities put a ban on heavy vehicles in Karachi city and gave them an alternative route, the Northern Bypass.
However, the Northern Bypass is a longer route and is not viable for the transportation business, said All Pakistan Goods Transport Owners Welfare Association spokesperson Muhammad Saeed.
Due to the strike, 60,000-tonne rice could not be exported, likewise, despite the availability of international orders, thousands of tonnes of potatoes, mangos and other perishable products are feared to get spoiled since these things have a short shelf life.
Karachi’s three ports handle almost 60,000 containers daily; PICT handles more than 2,220 containers (1100 export containers rest imports), QICT handles 23 (1000 exports and rest are imports) and about 2000 containers are handled by KICT.
As a result of the strike, exporters may use the air route which is quite expensive, an aeroplane service may charge $15,000 for what a shipping company charges only $3,000.
KATI President Masood Naqi said if the strike wouldn’t end immediately, heavy losses to national economy are feared.
He said that conflicts between goods transporters and officials take place repeatedly and cause grave issues for traders and industrialists. “Strikes affect shipments and delays export orders, which brings a bad name to the industry and affects the exports and industrial sector directly,” he added.
SM Muneer said that while our exports deficit is rising and the national debt is also on the hike, our economy couldn’t bear such incidents. He said that if the situation would continue, our exports can fall horribly. He said that due to delays, traders are facing cancellations of import orders and expiry of LCs.
Businessmen demand to resolve issues of goods transports urgently, saying a long-term and permanent solution should be provided to transporters to resolve this issue permanently.