The ignorance of Shipping Ministry advisory regarding container detention charges by the majority of EXIM logistics players compels the government for strictness.
During the first lockdown period, looking at the export-import hardships of shipments amid pandemic, the government and the Director-General of Shipping (DGS) advised the carriers to relax container detention charges for export-import shipments.
Except for a few among Container Freight Stations (CFS), Terminal Operators, Shipping Liners, and major Port Trusts, all chose to ignore the Ministry and DGS advisory. They kept charging shipments for reasons attributed to the lockdown.
Ministry’s actions regarding container detention charges
- March 24: The Shipping Ministry advised all the major trusts to invoke the clause of force majeure on port activities and operations.
- March 31: The Shipping Ministry advised the major ports with specific guidelines on remission or exemption of various charges on delay in cargo activities from March 22 to April 14.
- April 21: The Shipping Ministry ordered the major ports to issue applicable orders for force majeure and remission in their respective ports and submit a copy of it to Ministry within seven working days. It also directed the ports for making sure that all their users, including shipping lines, CFS, PPP concessionaires, etc. strictly implement the order.
DGS’s actions regarding container detention charges
- March 29: DGS advised shipping lines to forego the container detention charges on export-import shipments from March 22 to April 14.
- March 31: DGSadvised shipping lines to dismiss the non-containerized cargo charges from March 22 to April 14.
- April 22: DGS ordered shipping lines for not levying any charges of container detection on export-import containers until May 3.
“Binding” carriers for freeing the export-import shipments from container detention charges was not the actual plan of Ministry on April 21. The Shipping Ministry intended to unveil a relief package, including various charge remissions and exemptions till May 3 from April 14 earlier, to the major ports, as a normal departmental order (DO).
The EXIM trade community’s complaints against obdurate shipping lines for disdaining the government’s advisory forced Ministry to turn strict and replace advisory by order. However, shipping lines still seem reluctant to these directions of the Ministry and DGS.
A shipping industry executive has stated that neither the Ministry nor DGS has any jurisdiction over the charges that shipping lines and CFSs levy in a free-market. He disputed on the rightness of Ministry’s order of waiving container detention charges, claiming that it would make only some specific CFSs and shipping lines to bear all the load.
On the other hand, the efforts of Ministry and DGS seem to pay off as DP World declares to let go of the storage charges on all containers at its Cochin Port Trust’s container terminal from March 22 to May 3.
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