Freight rate hike could make imports dearer

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 5, 2016-

Goods imported from third countries could become dearer as authorities in the Indian state of West Bengal have hiked freight rates from Kolkata Port. 

Most goods imported by Nepal arrive by ship at Kolkata Port. Following the start of the Dussehra festival (known as Dashain in Nepal), traffic police in West Bengal have barred movement of cargo vehicles for 12 hours from 8 pm to 8 am. 

After the new rule went into effect on September 24, importers have been forced to pay 17 percent more to have their goods transported during the daytime, freight forwarders said. 

“Cargo operators have raised the tariff to Rs69,000 from Rs59,000 for an 18-tonne container,” said Rajan Sharma, former president of the Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association.  

Sharma said that container service providers had jacked up charges citing a shortage of workers due to the festival. “They said that clearing agents and workers had also taken leave for the festival,” he added. 

If importers cannot send the empty containers back to Kolkata Port on time, they might have to pay detention charges too. Importers have to return empty containers to the respective shipping companies within 21 days, failing which they have to pay a fine. 

According to freight forwarders, importers might have to pay additional charges for parking containers at the port. “In the event of delays in releasing containers from the port, port authorities could also ask for extra payment in container freight station charges,” said Sharma. 

Meanwhile, Eaknarayan Aryal, Nepal’s consul general in Kolkata, confirmed that cargo movement from Kolkata Port had been delayed. “Local authorities have temporarily barred the movement of cargo vehicles for 12 hours during the daytime,” he said.  

According to him, authorities have said the restriction is temporary and aimed at easing vehicular movement in Kolkata as there might be traffic congestion during the Dussehra festival. The ritual is observed in the region for 10 days starting from last Saturday. 

Aryal said they were holding talks with local authorities, port authorities and the chief minister of West Bengal to resolve the problem. “We have even asked for a separate route for Nepal-bound cargo,” he said. 

 

Containers stranded after shipping line goes bankrupt

KATHMANDU: Hundreds of Nepal-bound containers have been stuck at ports all over after shipping line Hanjin Shipping declared bankruptcy. Almost 20 percent of the goods imported by Nepali traders are carried by Hanjin. 

Rajan Sharma, former president of the Nepal Freight Forwarders’ Association, said that around 400 containers had been stranded at various ports including Singapore and Kolkata. 

“After the shipping line failed to come out of its financial crisis, the containers have not been transported to their destinations,” he said.

According to freight forwarders, importers have already paid the shipping line to have their goods transported from third countries. But they have not been able to receive their goods even though payment has been made by opening letters of credit.

Apart from losses to the traders, the government is likely to face revenue losses if the consignments are not dispatched on time. Sharma has asked the government to intervene to resolve the problem. “The government has to initiate talks with Hanjin and maritime organisations to ship the containers on time,” he said. (PR)

Published: 05-10-2016 08:05

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