Over 200 containers carrying 20,000 tons of onions have stuck in Karachi as goods transporters have stopped all vehicles/trucks in protest against holding of containers by law enforcement agencies for Muharam security and increasing numbers of kidnapping of vehicles in Sindh.
The perishable items to be exported to Malaysia, Singapore and other Far Eastern countries have stuck on Superhighway near Karachi as they are unlikely to reach the port where three cargo ships are scheduled to leave for various destinations on Saturday and Sunday, said an official of Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association.
“If these containers (each loaded with 28 tones of onions) are delayed any more the perishable item would become rotten. As containers are likely to be moved to port on Monday after Ashura, it might be further delayed at ports seeking cargo ships to the destinations thus making it more risky that the importers could also cancel the import order,” he said. Both the exporters and growers would be facing the brunt of security situation in the city as well as the halt of movement of goods carriers.
According to officials of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, hundreds of containers which are ready to lift thousands of tones rice for export purposes have also been used by police to block roads and streets. The fresh move could result in cancellation of import orders, they feared.
Besides the agricultural products, the movement of cargo vehicles in the city has also come to a halt amidst the strike call ob Karachi Goods Carriers Association (KGCA) which has stopped around 10,0000 vehicles at various parts of the city. The transporters have decided to observe strike against the increasing number of kidnapping of containers in interior Sindh. All associations/organisation of goods transporters have joined hands to make the strike successful as they have now left with no option but to stop their 10 wheelers, said Khalid Khan, President of Karachi Goods Carriers Association (KGCA) while talking to Business Recorder on Thursday.
According to him, all cargo transport associations of the city have jointly taken the decision and the protest and strike would continue until the issues related to the transporters were solved. “How can we continue business if our drivers are kidnapped or brutally tortured and our vehicles are looted?” asked Khalid. Many trucks of the association are snatched daily by bandits in Sindh. Every day, more than 10,000 loaded trucks of the association enter the city and around the same number leave for different cities of the country and Afghanistan as well.
Besides the routine crime transporters face daily, the police have also held over 200 containers for using them to block roads leading to Muharram procession routes and surroundings of Imambargahs. “The police force our drivers to park the trucks for roadblock and sometimes the trucks are torched,” he said adding that many containers and trucks have been torched during riots during the last few months but they were never compensated by the government. On the other hand, sources also claimed that strike call might be a precautionary measure on the part of transporters to avoid any unavoidable situation of the city during the Muharram.