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Thousands of NATO trucks still stranded at Karachi three weeks after route reopening

Karachi, Tue, 24 Jul 2012 ANI

Karachi, July 24 (ANI): The containers carrying goods for international forces stationed in Afghanistan remain stranded at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) even though the NATO supply routes through Pakistan were officially reopened three weeks ago.

According to KPT General Manager, Rear Admiral Azhar Hayat, not a single container or vehicle of NATO supplies has left the KPT premises since July 3, after Pakistan officially reopened the ground lines of communication, reports The Express Tribune.

Islamabad had blocked the NATO supply routes on November 26, 2011, after the U.S. air raid on the Salala border post killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

"There has been no clearance of NATO cargo at KPT so far, but we expect the process will begin in the current week," Hayat said, 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, he said.

When the supply routes were resumed some three weeks ago, port authorities expected to receive up to Rs 2.2 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 Rs 2.5 billion, Hayat said.

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 said.

Moreover, the KPT has not entertained any vessels carrying Afghanistan-bound cargo in the last three weeks.

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. (ANI)

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