By TOM GODFREY
The owner of one of Toronto’s top Caribbean freight forwarders has stopped shipping charitable goods to Jamaica for free in a dispute over a Honda motorcycle that he claims was seized and is not being released by Customs officials on the island.
Hardutt Lachmansingh, president of Q-Trex International in Mississauga, has hired a lawyer, flown to Jamaica twice and even met with consulate general officials in Toronto to seek the return of an $8,000 bike that was mistakenly sent to Montego Bay last September.
“I have been pleading with Jamaican officials for more than seven months,” a frustrated Lachmansingh told Share. “I have been there twice and met with Customs officials and I still cannot get my bike back.”
He said the modified 1,000 cc bike was shipped by a Toronto man and was destined for the racing circuit in Guyana. The bike’s owner shows up at the Q-Trex office weekly seeking its return.
“The bike is illegal in Jamaica and cannot be used on the roads there,” said Lachmansingh. “We have no choice but to believe that someone is trying to steal it from us.”
His company has provided Share with copies of correspondence sent to Major Richard Reese, Commissioner of the Jamaica Customs Dept., explaining the shipping mishap and seeking release of the bike.
“This is an internal error made by one of our shipping clerks,” Lachmansingh told Reese last November. “We ship containers to different countries in the Caribbean.”
He explained that Q-Trex was paid to deliver the Honda and failure to do so can result in legal action against the company.
“I have two offices and about 20 employees in Jamaica right now,” said Lachmansingh. “We are generating a lot of revenue there and no one is willing to help us.”
Q-Trex last year shipped more than 200 containers to its offices in Kingston and Montego Bay for distribution throughout the island. Each container generates up to $8,000 in taxes and revenue for government coffers, company officials said.
Lachmansingh is disappointed with a meeting he had this year with senior officials from the Jamaican Consulate General in Toronto.
“They (consular officials) told me there was nothing that they could do to help recover the bike,” he said. “We have two offices on the island and it is like no one cares.”
He said Q-Trex has since stopped helping the many Toronto-area charities that want to ship goods to the island for free.
The forwarder has invoices from last week when his company shipped at no cost two of five barrels of goods sent by a Mississauga church to an orphanage in Jamaica.
“We also not long ago sent down for free a shipment of used computers to a school in Jamaica,” said Lachmansingh. “We are sending a lot of goods free for charity all the time.”
Lachmansingh is so frustrated by a lack of help that he has put on hold a load of medical supplies donated by the community in Toronto to help the Jamaican government fight the Chikungunya virus and possible spread of Ebola.
“I was sending that down to help the government there,” he said. “But I am not getting any help from them.”
Q-Trex has since sent out an alert and launched a campaign to warn airlines and other freight forwarders about the “dangers of shipping to Jamaica”.
He insists that he loves the island and will continue growing his business there.
“Shippers trust us with their cargo, we have to protect it regardless of mistakes,” he told Share. “We became one of the biggest freight forwarders because of honesty and professionalism.”
The company, that was established in 1974, advertises heavily in the local Toronto media and forwards a lot of goods free to the Caribbean for charities. It has offices throughout the Caribbean.
Jamaican consular officials were not available at press time for a comment.