KARACHI - Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Shamim Ahmed Firpo expressed deep concern over seizure of huge number of containers laden with import and export consignments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and urged the government to immediately release all these containers in order to save the business community from suffering grave losses.

Shamim, in a statement, said that these cargo containers have been used to block all roads heading towards the capital city with an intention to refrain a political party and its supporters from entering Islamabad to stage sit-ins but it was a matter of grave concern that most of these containers were laden with import and export consignments, particularly huge quantities of perishable goods which would obviously decay if these consignments fail to reach their destinations on time.

He pointed out that many of these containers were also loaded with medicines, textiles, chemicals and inflammable items etc. which pose severe threat to the lives of the masses if anything goes wrong between law enforcers and the agitators.

“The concerned traders and industrialists will suffer grave losses, if these containers were not immediately released. The government must realise that any loss to businessmen will also have a severe impact on the economic performance of the country”, the KCCI president stressed, adding that the situation will also send a very negative signal abroad as the export consignments will not be delivered to the buyers as per commitment, whereas the local markets may also experience severe shortage of numerous goods and commodities.”Reiterating KCCI’s clear stance of being a non-political entity, Shamim said, “We are neither in favour of the sit-in nor against it as we are purely businesspeople who only demand an enabling business environment which has to be ensured by the govt.” He said that keeping in view the tense situation, transporters were unwilling to carry goods to the upcountry and it was worrisome that around 25,000 to 30,000 loaded vehicles have been parked by transporters with fears of becoming hostage upon entering Punjab or KP.

The KCCI chief said that numerous Good Transporters Associations have threatened to stage strike if their container laden vehicles were not released immediately. “If transporters go on strike, it will bring Pakistan’s exports to grinding halt”, Shamim feared, adding that almost 3,500 vehicles loaded with goods leave for the upcountry from Karachi ports and the same number arrives at these Ports. In such a situation, if goods transporters observe complete strike, it will be the business community which will have to face additional losses on account of demurrage and detention, he said.

He was of the opinion that instead of engaging business community’s containers, the government should look for any other mean and utilise its own resources and machinery to do whatever they want. Why the business community was being penalised because of someone else’s failures, he questioned.

The KCCI president advised the government to seriously review the entire situation and accordingly take steps to provide relief to the business and industrial community of the entire country.