ChPT, stevedores association at loggerheads on crane use

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on November 21, 2021

CPSA sends legal notice for forcing them to use the mobile harbour crane belonging to private contractor Roadwings International Pvt Ltd

The Chennai Port Stevedores Association has issued a legal notice to the Chennai Port Trust for forcing them to use the mobile harbour crane belonging to private contractor Roadwings International Pvt Ltd.

The issue has been a bone of contention for the last five years. The association has been objecting to the compulsory use of the cranes at citing additional cost.

The association filed a writ petition in 2016 before the Madras High Court assailing the agreement and the ChPT's trade notice issued in June 2015 imposing the condition on stevedores. The Court had passed an interim order of status quo and the stevedores once again had the discretion to opt which cranes they could use, the legal notice says.

On November 9, the ChPT’s counsel told the Court that steps are being initiated to cancel the agreement as Roadwings owes ₹21.10 crore to ChPT. Following the submission, the Court closed the Writ with liberty for the association to re-agitate the grounds raised in the petition if any grievance persists.

Legal action

“Given the large amount owed to the port trust it is rather odd that you insist on the Stevedores continuing to use the services of Roadwings,” the notice said.

“You are hereby put on Notice that any action taken by you to force our client’s members to utilise the services of Roadwings, our client will be left with no other alternative but to initiate appropriate legal action against you at your cost and consequence,” the notice said.

‘Misconceived notice’

Sources said that ChPT has informed the stevedores that the order does not say that the ChPT’s trade notice has been stayed but it only says that as on that particular date what status quo has to be maintained. This legal notice is under total misconception and a proper reply will be given to the notice.

The cancellation process should be done as per the agreement and 90 days time should be given to the operator, and follow stipulations of the agreement, sources said.

Ishwar Achanta, President, CPSA, requested ChPT to adhere to the letter and spirit of the recent Court order that brings huge relief to the stevedores. These last five years have been agonising having been forced to use cranes at exorbitant costs on cargoes that the cranes are not designed for.

“A huge volume of traffic has been diverted from the port leading to loss of livelihood for us and closure of many companies. However, we see this judgement as a silver lining and are fully committed to working closely with the port to bring back these cargoes,” he told BusinesLine.

Published on November 21, 2021

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