Seafood exporters at loggerheads with India Gateway Terminal

V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on October 14, 2011

Considering the fact that the shippers/exporters are the mainstay of any container terminal, the Seafood Exporters Association of India has called upon India Gateway Terminal to have a shipper-friendly image rather than facilitate a situation where the shipper/exporter is at the mercy of the steamer agents.

The reaction of the Association comes in the wake of the alleged delay on the part of IGTPL in implementing the Port Trust Chairman's directive for direct billing during the peak export season and to collect charges for services in the terminal as per the rates fixed by Tariff Authority for Major Ports.

Mr Norbert Karikkassery, President of the Seafood Exporters Association of India, said that it is almost three months since the Port Trust Chairman issued the directive to the terminal operator following the Kerala High Court order after the Association approached the Court against the exorbitant charges levied at the terminal. However, the terminal operator, in spite of a direction by a statutory authority, has continued to drag its feet to implement the order.

Fishing season

As the fishing season started on August 1, the Association President said that there were approximately 50 containers arriving at the terminal every day during these two months. In these months, the largest volumes of frozen marine products are exported. However, the Cochin Steamer Agents Association is collecting additional charges, which would work out to be Rs 8,000 a container and it is estimated that they would have collected approximately Rs 3 crore till August 15, he said.

The TAMP fixes the scale of rates (SOR) for all major ports in the country. Accordingly, the SOR has been fixed for ICTT at Vallarpadam. As per the TAMP notification, only the terminal operator is permitted to collect charges for services at the terminal. Prior to the opening of ICTT, the THC (Terminal Handling Charges) was collected by steamer agents who are members of the Cochin Steamer Agents Association (CSAA).

Even after the ICTT was opened for operation, members of CSAA continued to invoice the shippers for THC, disregarding the notification of TAMP. Further they increased the THC to more than double of what they were charging. Since our appeals to these exorbitant charges were disregarded, the Association approached the High Court. The court in its interim order directed the Port Trust Chairman to enquire into the matter and take suitable action, he said.

Published on October 14, 2011

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