Containers pile up at dry port as bizmen struggle with shipping line charges

As majority of businesses in Ludhiana were closed for the last 40 days, hundreds of containers of import consignments piled up at Ludhiana dry port as those who ordered them did not get them cleared.

According to businessmen, there is currently no demand for the goods ordered and despite customs department instructing shipping lines for waiver of charges in case goods are not released on time, a few shipping companies have imposed hefty charges on importers, which they are unable to pay. Businessmen demanded that shipping lines and customs department waive off the charges till June 1.

Upkar Singh Ahuja, president, Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Undertakings (CICU) said, “A large number of import containers are stuck at Ludhiana dry port and other such ports ever since the lockdown. Importers are facing considerable. stress as there is no scope of sale of these goods in the market for now and in the days to come. Moreover, shipping lines are not complying with customs department instructions to show some leniency towards importers and are still imposing charges.”

He said the situation would change only when industries, markets and commercial establishments opened fully and the supply chain returned to normal. “The ball is in the court of the government and shipping lines. If they do not want importers to go bankrupt, they should lend a helping hand to them and announce full waiver of all sorts of charges like demurrage, warehousing and land haulage at least June 1,” he said.

According to Sarvjeet Singh, exports committee head of CICU, “We are getting full support from the customs department with regards to problems being faced by importers and exporters. But some shipping lines are not ready to cooperate with importers with regard to charges and penalties because of which more delay is being caused in the release of goods and more charges are being levied on them. Importers are not in a condition to even pay one day demurrage right now as they are already under huge financial burden so shipping companies should waive off charges fully till June 1”.