Importers forced to pay high detention chargesTraders have complained they have been forced to pay high detention charges to shipping lines as a result of delay in delivery of goods imported from third countries to Nepal from India’s Kolkata port due to unavailability of enough railway racks.
Traders have complained they have been forced to pay high detention charges to shipping lines as a result of delay in delivery of goods imported from third countries to Nepal from India’s Kolkata port due to unavailability of enough railway racks.
They accused the Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR), the firm that handles railway freight to Nepal, of not making available enough racks.
Once shipping liners hand over containers to CONCOR for delivery to Birgunj’s Sirsiya Dry Port, the containers should be returned to them within 21 days. Otherwise, the shipping liners charge fine to Nepali importers.
However, the importers said it has become difficult for them to return the containers within the stipulated time due to CONCOR’s failure to arrange adequate railway racks. A rack has 90 containers.
Dinesh Shrestha, vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), said it takes more than 40 days for them to return the containers to the shipping liners. “As goods are not delivered in time from the Kolkata port, the traders have been hit hard,” he said.
Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board, a body that oversees dry ports in Nepal, confirmed Nepal-bound cargos have been stuck at Kolkata port. “There were around 700 containers stuck at the port two days ago. There would be only 250 containers awaiting delivery on a normal day,” said Laxman Basnet, executive director of the board.
As per the Railway Service Agreement between Nepal and India, CONCOR handles Nepal-bound cargo through the Indian Railway. When more goods need to be delivered to Nepal, it asks for more racks with the Indian railway.
Recently, the shipping liners had refused to release Nepal-bound cargos of those importers who had not cleared demurrage charges for the blockade period. Shrestha said the shipping agents did not agree to their request to reduce the charges by 50-60 percent.
Nepali traders owe an estimated Rs6 billion in detention charges to the agents. The amount started piling up after cargos got stranded at the port for months due to the Tarai unrest and Indian trade embargo. “Shipping agents are dealing with individual importers on this issue,” said Shrestha.
Earlier in January, an FNCCI team led by Shrestha had held talks with the shipping agents in Kolkata.