TT Talk - Dangers from "Unknown" Shippers in Lahore, Pakistan

Mr Zahid Mehmood, the Manager of Star Logistics International, freight forwarders in Lahore, has sent us the following item on the dangers of accepting consignments from "unknown" shippers. "I read your TT Talk Edition regularly and I wish to share an incident with you, which I have seen at Lahore Airport. Please also share this with your readers so that they can also be careful about booking freight from "unknown" shippers.

A shipment came to a forwarder in Lahore (Pakistan) for booking. He checked the shipment thoroughly in his warehouse as the shipper was new to him. He also used his export licence to book the shipment, as his client had no licence for exports. Next morning he took the shipment the airport for customs clearance. There he found the staff of the Anti-Narcotics department, who had the permit to check his shipment. He gladly allowed them to check the shipment before the starting of custom formalities/procedure.

They opened the cartons of the shipment and emptied the cartons on the ground. They searched the whole shipment and found nothing. Then they cut the package material and found drugs (white powder) in the packaging cartons. They arrested the forwarder and went to his office to catch the client, but he had escaped The forwarder was in great trouble as the drugs had been shipped using his papers and he had no evidence to show that this shipment did not belong to him. He was put in jail and his office was sealed. The forwarder's check of the consignment in his warehouse did not extend to the packing. He only viewed and checked the goods; he did not cut the packaging cartons. Actually the packaging cartons are sevenply and the drugs were found packed between the third and fourth layer.

Every forwarder in Lahore is now fearful that the same will happen to him. In Pakistan, forwarders do not have the technology to check/scan the packing of shipments; neither are they allowed to tear the packing, as the airline will refuse to accept the damaged cartons. Forwarders are now not accepting shipments from new customers especially where the customer has no documents to export them. As a result, new exports are facing great problems. This problem is not only in Pakistan but could occur anywhere in the world, especially in third world countries.

In our company I have adopted the following procedure for the new customers booking.

i. Address and contact numbers of the new customer will be verified first.

ii. All his export documents will be verified from his Bank and other departments of the Government from where these are issued.

iii. The new customer will join the Custom Clearing staff at the time of clearance.

iv. The new customer has to produce a favourable reference from a regular exporter, well known in the market.

v. The shipment will be fully checked in the warehouse, including the cartons and packaging material.

Where there is doubt, the weight of empty packaging will be confirmed and the layers of the cartons will be checked. I request you to share this with all your readers so that they can be aware of potential problems with new customers and do their best to avoid such a situation as the forwarder faced here in Pakistan in this case."

Staff Author

TT Club