Kerala Maritime Board sets terms for agents on crew change at Vizhinjam

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on October 23, 2020 Published on October 23, 2020

Kerala Maritime Board has imposed conditions for granting no objection certificate (NOC) to shipping agents to undertake crew change on board ships at Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram, a development which steamer agents say was unheard of anywhere in the country.

The agents must keep ₹3 lakh-deposit in the bank account of Kerala Maritime Board, which will be used to recover “any liability caused by the shipping agents”, according to a October 21 letter written by the Kerala Maritime Board to three shipping agents – Dowins Resources Pvt Ltd, Atlantic Global Shipping Pvt Ltd and Capital Holdings.

The agents must hold a license from the Customs Department to operate in Vizhinjam port for carrying out crew change and must have a functional office in Vizhinjam.

The agents should have experience in similar activity supported by documents, clearance from the police and should give an undertaking to pay port dues, port charges, tug charges and all related charges, the letter stated.

“All conditions should be complied within ten days or before next crew change operation,” the latter added.

Kerala Maritime Board is the state government agency tasked with overseeing the state’s maritime sector.

Shipping agents said that the conditions set by the Kerala Maritime Board would deter more agents from undertaking crew change at Vizhinjam which has seen staff swap on about 50 ships since opening-up for crew change in July.

Vizhinjam emerged on the world crew change map given its close proximity to the main shipping lane with least deviation as embattled ship owners and managers sought newer locations to swap staff on ships after travel restrictions imposed by nations to deal with the spread of coronavirus disrupted this key activity globally since March.

“It is wrong to impose such conditions. Crew change all over India is governed by the standard operating procedures issued by the Directorate General of Shipping,” said a Mumbai-based shipping agent, adding that no port in the country is asking for a Rs3 lakh cash deposit as sought by the Kerala Maritime Board.

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Published on October 23, 2020
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