LAHORE: The launch of freight train service at Mughalpur Dry Port will help Punjab earn hefty revenue which it has been losing due to clearance of goods in Karachi. Currently almost all the goods containers are being cleared in the port city.
Lahore Customs Clearing Agents Association (LCCAA) Chairman Muhammad Amjad Chaudhry shared these views during an exclusive interview with Customs Today.
Ch Amjad stressed that Railways Minister Saad Rafique should visit the dry port and sit together with the stakeholders to deliberate rejuvenating the dry port. “If the government cannot run the dry port, we are ready to take over and turn it into a profitable entity within three days which will add huge revenue to the national kitty,” the LCCAA chief claimed.
He argued that Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique was more visionary, qualified and energetic than the former Indian Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, who had transformed loss-making railways into a successful venture.
Replying to a query about freight train issues, he said that the government had repaired many locomotives but had engaged them to carry passenger trains, adding that Railways could never become a profit-earning organisation unless its freight service was made functional to the capacity.
He laid emphasis on the need for allowing Pakistani and Indian businessmen to undertake bilateral trade which would not only benefit both the governments in shape of revenue but would also discourage smuggling which had been dealing a blow to the local industry.
To a question, Ch Amjad eloquently declared that they had been enjoying cordial relations with Lahore Customs top officials who were very cooperative. However, lower staff should be directed for facilitating importers in goods clearance to ensure smooth and effective business operations,” he added.
He elaborated that they had no issue with top Customs officials including the Chief Collector and collectors. However, deputy collectors at Mughalpura Dry Port should be provided proper training” the LCCAA chief urged.
He was of the view that they are confronting various customs-related issues at the Allama Iqbal Airport as well and these problems should also be redressed at the earliest.
He claimed that the LCCAA had taken up these issues with the authorities concerned at different levels but nothing came out of it so far.
To another question about Mughalpur Dry Port, the LCCAA chief averred that the Port was one of the important Dry Ports of the country but unfortunately it had fallen victim to the vested interests.
“The Prem Nagar Dry Port is the brainchild of top guns who have made attempts to privatize the port on throw away price but the Customs Clearing Agents Association foiled their venture,” he critically expressed. Ch Amjad pointed out that two trains were used to come to Mughalpura Dry Port six years ago and 140 containers were being handled on daily basis, adding that there is no train now at the dry port, reflecting the conspiracies hatched by the vested interests to set Prem Nagar Dry Port.
He questioned logic behind setting up a new dry port in the presence of a well-equipped and profitable dry port? Adding, “We will not let the Prem Nagar Dry Port become a success unless our mother dry port is made functional to the potential.”
Ch Amjad believed that PR Minister Khawaja Saad was also being tricked by the vested interests who could not see Mughal Port flourish despite the fact that the port was located at a prime location as it was near to the Ring Road which had assumed the status of a gateway to other parts of the province.
The LCCAA chairman showered importers and clearing agents with praise, saying that they deserved due appreciation as they had been doing business in Lahore in the face of multifarious problems.
Talking about the establishment of Pakistan-India Clearing Agents Association, Ch Amjad said that a meeting of the association would be held at zero-point on border on monthly basis to discuss various issues pertaining to facilitating trade between both the neighbouring countries.
It is to be noted that LCCAA Chief Amjad Ch has also been elected as president Pakistan-India Clearing Agents Association.
About Pakistan-India trade, he stressed enhancing the official trade between the two countries, arguing that direct exchange of goods between the two countries would reduce the cost of doing business. “The government should keep an eye on trade and does not allow the Indian goods that can damage Pakistani industry,” he concluded.