Transshipment modality, electronic cargo tracking to be implemented from todayNepal will receive transshipment privileges and permission to use electronic tracking on Nepal-bound cargo at Kolkata port from Friday. But importers complain that limited services by shipping companies and poor infrastructure at the harbour still remain as hurdles to faster cargo movement.
Nepal will receive transshipment privileges and permission to use electronic tracking on Nepal-bound cargo at Kolkata port from Friday. But importers complain that limited services by shipping companies and poor infrastructure at the harbour still remain as hurdles to faster cargo movement.
Nepal has been receiving transshipment privileges at Vishakhapatnam port and using electronic tracking on cargo dispatched from there since August. As per the transshipment modality that will be implemented at Kolkata port from Friday, containers will be transported directly to the Birgunj Inland Container Depot and cleared through customs.
The modality is expected to reduce the cost of trading by minimising transportation time and speeding up clearance at the port.
Importers say that trade will not be streamlined unless the number of shipping lines providing services to Nepali traders is increased, and the infrastructure at the port is improved. According to them, more than 700 Nepal-bound containers are currently stuck at Kolkata port due to the inadequate number of railway rakes provided to them by the shipping companies.
Speaking at an interaction on Wednesday, Ashok Kumar Temani, chairperson of the Road Transport and Transit Committee of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that the shipping companies had allocated very few agents to operate Nepal-bound containers.
Three shipping companies—Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Company and CMA CGM—handle Nepalese cargo at Kolkata port.
Only Maersk Line provides services at Vishakhapatnam port, and it is the only one that maintains a branch office in Nepal. Following the implementation of the transshipment modality and electronic cargo tracking, Indian authorities will hand over the handling of Nepal-bound containers to the shipping companies, traders said.
“There is no clear provision about the operation modality to be implemented by these private shipping companies,” said RB Rauniyar, managing director of Himalayan Terminal that operates the dry port in Sirsiya, Birgunj.
As per the provision, electronic cargo tracking will be used on containers only up to Raxaul where Indian authorities will deactivate the system. “It does not cover risks during the transportation of containers the rest of the way from Raxaul to Birgunj,” Rauniyar said.
Traders have been demanding that the new modality should also be implemented on cargo trucks departing from Kolkata and export containers dispatched from Birgunj Dry Port. They also want the double charges paid to Container Corporation of India and shipping companies removed, and an increase in the number of agents for handling containers.
Indian government officials said the electronic cargo tracking system and transshipment privilege would help eliminate problems traders have been facing at Indian ports.
“We are also working to improve the infrastructure at Kolkata port, and it will be completed by next June,” said S Balaji Arun Kumar, deputy chairman of the Kolkata Port Trust of the Indian Ministry of Shipping.
According to him, the port authority could speed up delivery of Nepal-bound cargo by making 40-45 rakes available per month, up from the 30 rakes currently being provided.