Pileup of empty containers puts dry port in disarrayA huge number of empty containers has been steadily piling up at Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj, creating congestion at the dry port as importers are reluctant to clear them.
A huge number of empty containers has been steadily piling up at Sirsiya Dry Port in Birgunj, creating congestion at the dry port as importers are reluctant to clear them.
With a container backlog looming at the port, the concerned authorities have not shown interest in solving the crisis. The importers transport the goods using the container but they don’t send the empty container back on time. Port officials said that if the mess is not cleared, it could affect operations at the facility. The problem started to aggravate since last week.
On Friday, 641 empty containers planned to be sent to Kolkata port in India have piled up at the dry port.
Bishnu Kant Chaudhary, chief executive officer of Himalayan Terminal, the port operator, said that since last two weeks, arrivals of railway rakes carrying goods from Kolkata has increased. For months, goods were stranded at Kolkata due to traffic jam. “Now containers have piled up at the dry port and the situation has been worsening day by day,” he said. “After many efforts, we succeeded in making the arrival process of railway rakes to Birgunj as smooth as possible. If the issue is not sorted out, it could create problems in Birgunj as well.”
The November-December period saw a record arrival of railway rakes, he said. One railway rake can accommodate 41 containers. “Currently, three railway rakes are entering the dry port daily from Kolkata. But in the same ratio, the empty containers are not sent back,” he said. This has been attributed to laxity on the part of importers. Most of the time, the railway rake are sent empty from Birgunj. On Thursday, the dry port had sent back only 190 empty containers.
Chaudhary said that there were more than 1,000 cargo containers stranded in Kolkata a month ago. “The problem has been sorted out now. On Friday, there were only 131 Nepal-bound containers,” he said. The delay in goods clearance by the custom agents of the importers and low charge of the containers at the dry port yard has increased the problem of the backlog. The terminal does not charge the importer for two consecutive days from the day when goods are offloaded from the railway rakes.
After that, the penalty for a 20-feet container is Rs165 per day. For containers of 40ft, the daily fine is Rs230. “Due to the low fine, importers are hesitant to clear the containers from the dry port,” said Chaudhary. Normally, the importers are given 15-21 days to return the containers to the shipping companies. According to the record of the terminal, most of the empty containers backlog belongs to importers like Avinash Hatchery, Mirror King, Bottlers Nepal, Tirupati Glass, Mahabir Adhunik Daal Udyog, GB marketing, Saurav Enterprises, Shivashakti Pulses Mill, Global Agro and among others.