Originally published on PakVoices Gwadar website
In August, 2014, China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) handed over three buses to the Balochistan government as a gift at a special ceremony. Chinese Consul General Ma Yaou, Secretary Education Department of Balochistan Ghulam Ali Baloch and Gwadar Port Authority Chaiman Dosteen Jalamdini were among the guests present.
The buses were meant to be used for the students in Gwadar and help resolve transportation problems they faced in traveling to their schools and colleges.
Nearly a year has passed since and the buses are still standing at Gwadar port, held by custom officials over the issue of customs duty. Custom officials claim that a duty of 4.5 million rupees applies to the buses and their parts, and Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) or the Balochistan Government must pay the duty before the buses could be released.
At the other hand, Balochistan government and GPA are reluctant to pay the sum. It is important to note here that the buses are a gift, meant to be used as a non-profit mode of transportation for the students of Gwadar. Legally, it is unclear as to whether customs duty applies on such an international shipment and if so, who exactly is liable to pay the duty.
It’s been a year since the buses arrived and to this day, they stand rotting away at the port. Social and political notables in Gwadar have repeatedly demanded that the GPA and Balochistan government play their part in ensuring the release of the buses so that the students can benefit from them.
Recent unconfirmed reports claim that Balochistan Chief Minister has directed the Finance department to pursue the case and pay for the buses to have them released from custom officials. If these reports turn out to be true, it can finally be hoped that the gift will, at long last, reach those who are meant to use it.