‘Go slow’ continues to hit cargo movement in Chennai ports

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on July 23, 2014 Published on July 23, 2014

Shortage of staff affects processing of documents

Extended delay in Customs clearance of cargo at Chennai air and sea ports could lead to diversion of cargo to other ports and loss of business for the trade, according to cargo handlers.

Chronic issue

The delay is attributed to a 40 per cent shortage of staff in Customs personnel who are also ‘going slow’ in processing documents.

While the staff shortage is a chronic issue that has been taken up repeatedly by the trade to no avail, the go-slow in recent months was sparked, according to representatives of Chennai Customs Agents, Steamer Agents and chambers of commerce, by enquiries by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the working of Customs authorities.

Filing of applications

According to one representative, nearly 4,000 applications are filed daily — including import and export papers in the air and sea ports. Over 80 per cent of these would be processed.

But now this has fallen to less than half. This represents a backlog that mounts by about 2,000 documents daily.

Containers that need to be cleared in two-three days are held back for over a week. Costs mount for industry as commercial vehicles wait for days for cargo, demurrage charges — fine for taking up space in ports — increase by the day and work is affected in factories.

According to industry and trade representatives, this situation is unique to Chennai ports which have been the worst affected. Cargo movement could shift to other ports in neighbouring States, they say.

Call for action

The Chennai Custom House Agents Association at a meeting with industry associations has urged importers and exporters to represent the issue directly to the Chief Commissioner of Customs for further action.

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Published on July 23, 2014
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