Business community concerned over high shipping charges

Some shipping firms even demand advance rent for 10 days during free days, which is illegal

KARACHI   -  The Karachi Chamber of Commerce & In­dustry (KCCI) has expressed concern over the exorbitant charges by the shipping companies, which have increased the cost of doing business, making the products uncompetitive in the global market. KCCI president Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh said the chamber had long been raising the issue, but to no avail. He demanded that the free days should only start when a ves­sel completed the discharging process rather than from the date of the vessel’s arrival at the port. “Saturdays and Sun­days along with all public holidays must also be exempted from being free days as shipping companies remain inoperative during weekends and holidays.”

“Some shipping firms even demand advance rent for 10 days during free days, which is illegal and clearly shows their intention to deliberately delay the process for making extra bucks,” he added. “If shipping companies can­not operate on Saturdays and Sundays, they should either enhance the number of free days from the existing five to 15 or come up with a mechanism to accept documents and issue delivery orders (DOs) electronically on weekends,” he said while speaking to WealthPK.

It was really strange that Karachi Port Trust and terminal operators remained operational round the clock, but ship­ping companies remained operative dur­ing office hours only for five days to ac­cept documents and issue DOs, he added. “This creates more problems for traders. If original documents arrive on Friday af­ternoon, their DO is not issued until Mon­day, resulting in wastage of three days.” Iftikhar Sheikh stated that when all the containers owned by shipping companies were insured, why traders were com­pelled to pay damage charges. He said such charges should be immediately abol­ished as any damage to container could be claimed from insurance provider.

“All types of charges being taken under various heads should be publicised, and made uniform in consultation with stake­holders so that traders could be made aware about the likely expenditures on their consignments,” he demanded. Underscoring the need to bring down shipping charges, which vary from $70 to $150, and to lower security depos­its as well, Iftikhar Sheikh said as per the ministry’s order regarding refund of container security deposit, shipping companies were bound to refund secu­rity deposit within seven days, but the order was not being complied with as the shipping firms usually took a month to release refund, that too in the form of cheque instead of a pay order. “Only a few shipping companies comply to this condi­tion,” he said, adding it was alarming that several shipping firms had imposed a fee if a DO was not taken within a specified period, which was illogical, hence such unnecessary charges should be immedi­ately abolished. The KCCI president said the terminal operators had also raised their delivery charges from Rs110,000 to Rs130,000, which should be withdrawn. “Any increase in such charges should be imposed after consultations with KCCI.”

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt