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Expats bear the brunt

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TUSSLE BETWEEN CUSTOMS AND C&F AGENTS

Expats bear the brunt

300 tonnes of goods getting decayed at CAAB warehouse in Ctg airport

SHAMSUDDIN ILLIUS, Ctg

Publication Date: 17 August, 2016

Media: The Independent

Original URL : Expats bear the brunt

E-paper  URL: Expats bear the brunt

 

Over 300 tonnes of goods, sent by about 5,000 Bangladeshi expatriates to their relatives, are rotting in warehouses of the Civil Aviation Authority Bangladesh (CAAB) at Chittagong’s Shah Amanat International Airport (CSAIA) for the past nine months.

The goods have not been released yet because of an ongoing tussle between the Customs authorities and the C&F agents over warehouse charges and revenue. The revenue and warehouse charges were expected to be a maximum of Tk 1.5 crore, but they now stand at about Tk 10–12 crore, sources in the airport and CAAB said. The huge pile-up in CAAB warehouses has been caused by the suspension of clearance of consignments at the airport form November 2015 to February 2016 due to a tussle between Customs officials and C & F agents over ambiguities in Baggage Rules. But the expatriates have turned out to be the ultimate sufferers of the stand-off.

Although goods release had been suspended, the CAAB did not stop imposing daily warehouse charges. They are still increasing by the day, while the expatriates are unable to get them released, and many are reluctant to do so, as most of the goods are likely to have perished by now. It was found during a recent visit to the warehouses that many of the commodities lying in there were covered with moss. Many had long crossed their expiry dates and others were visibly rotting. The commodities included such stuff as milk, clothes, domestic items and toys. “I sent some Nido milk and dresses for my daughter in November 2015. They have still not been cleared, though I am now back home and my daughter’s age is now almost two years. Perhaps, the milk has already been damaged and the dresses are of no use for her,” said Moinul Hossain, an expatriate working in the UAE.

“Owing to the conflict between the Customs and C & F agents, goods release was suspended for four months, and my family did not get the products. If I want to release the stuff now, I will have to pay money thrice their cost,” said Moinul Hossain. Like Moinul, another expatriate had a similar complaint.  Meanwhile, with unreleased goods occupying CAAB warehouse space, it was becoming difficult to accommodate fresh arrivals, said CAAB and Chittagong customs sources, leaving the Customs authorities, CAAB, C&F and the expatriates in a tangle. “The goods are occupying warehouse space from November 2015. The expatriates are not releasing the goods because of the warehouse charges,” said Omar Sharif Shohel, cargo superintendent at Chittagong airport. The expatriates in UAE filed over 200 cases against the UAE Cargo Owners’ Association for not delivering their goods in time.

“Two men are now in UAE jail and the cases were on trial. Under the circumstances, we have applied to the civil aviation and tourism minister to waive the warehouse charges. Many of us have agreed to pay the warehouses for a month,” said Sayed Musleah Uddin, president, Probashi Kallayan Parishad. “If the CAAB auctions all the goods, it will not recover a month’s warehouse charges,” added Musleah Uddin. “Around 50 lakh expatriates are working in different profession in the Middle East, most of them low-income people unable to come home regularly. So, they send necessary goods, but their efforts are wasted,” lamented Musleah Uddin. CAAB chairman Air Vice-Marshal Ehsanul Goni Chowdhury said. “I have learnt of the situation after joining. We cannot waive the charges; we have written to the civil aviation and tourism ministry to decide.” Civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon told The Independent, “I am aware of the issue. I have directed officials to solve it. We are working on it to release the goods.”

Shamsuddin Illius
Shamsuddin Illius is a print and online media journalist. He has been working in the field (fulltime) of journalism since 2010. He is very much passionate about journalism since his early age. Currently he is the Bureau Chief-Chittagong at The Business Standard.

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