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Nepal seeks transshipment privileges at Kolkata port

- Rajesh Khanal, Kathmandu
The ECTS uses the Global Positioning System, a satellite-based radio navigation system, and allows the shipper to keep track of consignments

Jan 12, 2019-

Nepal has asked India for transshipment privileges and permission to use the electronic cargo tracking system (ECTS) on Nepal-bound cargo at Kolkata port too. 

Nepal has been receiving transshipment privileges at Vishakhapatnam port and using the ECTS on cargo dispatched from there since August. 

Containers sent from Vishakhapatnam are transported directly to the Birgunj Inland Container Depot. This facility is not available for consignments leaving Kolkata port. 

The ECTS uses the Global Positioning System, a satellite-based radio navigation system, and allows the shipper to keep track of consignments. Traders have to pay Rs4,200 extra per container to fit the ECTS. But it helps to reduce the overall cost of trading since they can avoid paying demurrage and detention charges because cargo movement is faster.

The ECTS was implemented as a pilot project at Kolkata port last April. The scheme had to be discontinued because Indian shippers were not keen on using it, traders said. 

According to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, a large number of containers dispatched from Kolkata port lack the ECTS and transshipment facilities. 

Importers have to produce letters of credit and paperwork issued by the Department of Commerce and the Nepali Consulate General, among others, to get customs clearance at the Indian port. No such documentation is needed at Vishakhapatnam port. 

“We are requesting Indian authorities to provide similar facilities for cargo at Kolkata port too,” said a ministry official. “Containers leaving Vishakhapatnam arrive at the Birgunj dry port in seven to 10 days, and the shipping company assumes the responsibility to take back the empty containers,” he said. 

On June 6, 2017, the governments of Nepal and India agreed to pilot the use of the ECTS to facilitate traffic-in-transit between the two countries on selected routes by signing a memorandum of intent. 

Freight forwarders said the implementation of the ECTS and transshipment privileges at Vishakhapatnam had helped speed up the movement of Nepali cargo at Kolkata port too. 

“As a large number of Nepal-bound containers are being sent through Vishakhapatnam port, it has eased pressure at Kolkata port; and customs clearance has become faster,” said Rajan Sharma, former president 

of the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association. 

According to Sharma, at least 800 Nepal-bound consignments used to get stuck almost every week. “The number has come down to 200-300 per week, and most of the importers are meeting the deadline of 14-21 days turnaround time” said Sharma. He added that the turnaround time of containers had gone up 120 days when the ECTS was not in place.

The Asian Development Bank, the financier of the ECTS programme, has appointed Transecur Telematics, a subsidiary of the Bhimsaria Group, to implement the system. Transecur Telematics was selected through a global tender. 

Published: 12-01-2019 09:03

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