TCP and Customs Lock Horns over Sugar Dispute | Pakistan Today

TCP and Customs Lock Horns over Sugar Dispute

A snail paced investigation crawls ahead into how thousands of tons of sugar, unfit for human consumption, was imported by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) from India and Thailand. Slow offloading of the cargo from the vessels is likely to cause major congestion at the country’s major seaport.
The KPT authorities has ordered the TCP to remove the two disputed sugar ships, presently anchored at berths number 18 and 20 of West Wharf, to avoid possible congestion at Karachi Port, well-placed sources told Pakistan Today Friday.
They said that cargo handling at M/v Unicorn I and M/v Unicorn Brave were suspended for last two days due to TCP’s dispute with the Customs authorities over quality of the imported food item.
The Customs and intelligence authorities are poring over media reports that the state-run grain trader, TCP, had imported substandard sugar from the arch-rival India and Thailand in sacks that bore neither trademark or expiry date.
According to sources, the two vessels were discharging cargo at a heavily reduced speed ever since their arrival on September 24 and 27.
Given that the speed of removal is so painfully slow, the already ailing national exchequer is bound to bear a fresh burden in the face of heavy port demurrage to be imposed by the port operator, KPT.
“After five working days, docked ships are charged the port demurrage,” the KPT officials told Pakistan Today.
According to KPT data, during the last 15 days M/v Unicorn Brave and M/v Unicorn I had hardly been able to offload 682 and 1,102 tons of its total 3,920 and 7,142 tons cargo respectively.
Officials at KPT, however insisted, under its mutual agreement with the Trust, TCP were required to discharge at least 2,000 tons of imported cargo at Karachi Port during 24 hours. “Their (TCP) daily offloading ranges between 200 to 300 tons primarily because of the clearance dispute with customs,” said an official.
He said the port operator, bearing the burden of the lingering dispute between Customs and TCP no further, had set a one-day deadline for the Corporation after which the ships would be shifted to a less central berth. Asked to elaborate, the official did not discount the possibility of sending vessels to the outer anchorage.
“TCP has requested one additional day, but if the problem did not resolve by tomorrow we would move the vessels, forcibly if we must,” he said anticipating the arrival of two private commercial ships were due at the two berths presently occupied by the TCP vessels.
Further, the official said, there was no work at the two sugar vessels for last two days. The sources apprised Pakistan Today that the stevedores were fully exploiting a snail-paced cargo handling at the TCP ships through pocketing handsome amounts on account of detention.
Another situation that might weigh down upon the national exchequer unnecessarily is that the haulers are reluctant in transporting the government owned commodity due to what the sources said late and less payments. “The absence of transport has belated the discharging of sugar ships which would take another four to five days to be fully unloaded,” observed an insider at Karachi Port.

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