Shipping companies refuse to take back containers

- SHANKAR ACHARYA, Parsa

Jan 29, 2016-

Nearly 700 empty cargo containers are piled up at Kolkata port as international shipping companies have refused to take them back because Nepali importers are yet to settle old detention charges.

Nepali importers, who had used the containers to import goods from third countries, have not paid detention charges for the last two months due to the border blockade. 

Pradip Kedia, president of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that Nepali importers had urged the shipping companies to provide a discount on the detention charge but they refused. 

Kedia was speaking to the media after returning from Kolkata where a delegation of importers had gone to request the shipping companies for a reduction because transport was halted by the blockade.  “Containers have been piling up at Kolkata port. As of now, there are 700 containers stranded at the port, and the problem will worsen if it is not resolved immediately.” 

He added that importers have to pay Rs8,000 daily for each container stranded at Kolkata port. This means an accumulated detention charge of Rs6 million daily. Over the past two months, the detention charges owed to the shipping companies have swelled to Rs360 million. 

“The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), businessmen and traders have been making efforts from their own levels, but the problem has not been resolved.” 

Last week, a team led by FNCCI Vice-President Dinesh Shrestha and representatives from the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association had met with international shipping companies in Kolkata. 

An American shipping company and two Chinese shipping companies have informed the Nepali delegation that they are not able to help the Nepali importers in this regard, Kedia said. “These shipping companies have informed the Nepali delegation that they cannot waive even a penny for Nepali importers.” 

Kedia said that they also held a separate meeting with Ashok Janakiraman, president of the Association of Shipping Companies Kolkata. A committee has been formed under Rajan Sharma, president of the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association, to continue negotiations to resolve the problem. 

More than 60 international shipping companies have been providing services to Nepali importers at Kolkata port. Normally, Nepali importers have to return the containers to the shipping companies in Kolkata within 14 days. And if they fail to do so, they have to pay $35-$60 per day as detention charge.  

More than 36,000 cargo containers enter Nepal from third countries annually. Of them, 50 percent arrive through Birgunj and Sirsiya dry port, and the rest through Bhairahawa, Biratnagar, Kakarbhitta and other border points.

Published: 29-01-2016 09:20

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