ISLAMABAD - A shipment meant for the Pakistani Peace Mission in Sudan is being held up at Port of Sudan since 2015 due to non-payment of demurrage, reveal the documents exclusively available with The Nation.

The shipment which was meant for Formed Police Unit (FPU) Pakistan (rotation 10) Kalma IDPs Camp, Nyala Darfur (Sudan) included four containers, out of which one has been missing till date. According to the official documents, the shipment is being held up since March 2015 due to non-payment of demurrage.

The shipment contains 3 APCs, 3 support vehicles, miscellaneous items, medical instruments and equipment. A container containing three vehicles, stoppers and road blockers was not traceable until October 2019 — four years after the shipment reached Sudan.

According to the sources, on September 4, 2019, expired medicines lying in a container at Port of Sudan were destroyed by burning by Customs Port authorities, thanks to the apathy of the Pakistani officials in making arrangements for release of the shipment.

According to the fresh calculations, as the documents reveal, the demurrage of the shipment up to 31 October 2019 stands at $346,258.

It is to mention here that the government of Pakistan had consented to pay the demurrages but the issue was left unaddressed and charges kept increasing at $95 per day, reaching $346,258 up to 31 October 2019.

The Commander of the Pakistani Mission has written to ministry of interior Islamabad that the vehicles had been kept locked in containers for the last 4 years and must have developed faults. The rubber parts must have been worn out due to high temperatures and salinity-ridden weather at the Port of Sudan, he added.

Moreover, he said, the mechanics for fitting and repair of these vehicles are not available in the Mission area. Faults and damages as worn out interior especially the rubber parts, electrical circuits/wiring burnt out, worn out/expired tyres, rubber protection joints of the vehicles, drained batteries and rusted body parts are perceived to have been developed in the vehicles due to high salinity level at the port, said the Commander.

On the other hand, $7,609 have already been paid for shipment from Karachi to Port of Sudan as freight charges while $10,000 approximately more are required for repair of the vehicles.

The Pakistani Mission, keeping in view the situation, has now floated three options to the authorities in Pakistan. The first option says the shipment be abandoned because only demurrage and already paid freight charges are more than the estimated cost of shipment. The Option-II says the said shipment may be released and brought to the Pakistani Mission area by an earliest date. Due to perceived damages to the vehicles, there are least chances that vehicles can be repaired in Nyala, Sudan and even if repaired, estimated cost will be $26,793 by the closure of the Mission and vehicles can be taken back to Pakistan. The Option-III suggests that the said shipment may be returned to Pakistan from Post of Sudan after paying demurrage and return freight charges. Although this option is also a loss but the vehicles can be taken back to Pakistan for reuse by some other formation, according to the documents.

In the latest correspondence with the officials at the ministry of interior few weeks back, the Contingent Commander has requested the ministry to give approval for depositing demurrage charges i.e. $346,258 to MAERSK Lines Company Ltd at Port of Sudan so that the shipment could be released.

The commander has also expressed concerns over officials of Pak Rangers Sindh repeatedly ignoring requests for sending these items/shipments through PIA leave flights in order to save the unnecessary expenditures.

In a letter to the ministry of interior in September 2019, he said Rangers Sindh, being the central focal point, makes arrangements to send these items in Sudan on demand of the contingent to be used for operational activities. “They mostly used to send these items (shipments) by sea through private cargo without consulting the Contingent Commander. The shipment has been held up at Port of Sudan since 2015 which is a glaring example of this lack of communication,” he said and added unfortunately the Rangers officials always opted for private cargo by sea despite clear instructions which reflects their non-serious attitude towards the official business.