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JNPT, Mundra Port stares at congestion as container freight stations get clogged

India’s top container handling facilities such as Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Mundra Port will become congested in the next 3-4 days as import containers moved to the nearby container freight stations (CFS) are not being cleared by the importers and custom house agents amidst a 21-day lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus, a trade body has warned.

The Container Freight Stations Association of India (CFSAI), said that its member units in JNPT, Mundra, Pipavav and Hazira were consistently evacuating import laden boxes from all the terminals to the CFSs, an industry practice to decongest the ports.

In the last ten days, despite constraints and shortage of tractor-trailer drivers, CFS operators have collectively evacuated over 30,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) from terminals at JNPT from March 22 to April 01. However, importers/CHAs have taken hardly any deliveries in the last ten days, it said.

“This is resulting in a pile-up of large number of import laden inventory in all the CFSs, and with only a fraction of imports being gated-out by the trade, the CFSs are facing an unprecedented challenge, and it is apprehended that in the next 3-4 days, most of the CFSs will reach their “holding capacity”, and evacuation from terminals will come to a halt. This inter alia would have a cascading effect on port inventory and lead to congestion in ports,” Umesh Grover, Secretary-General, CFSAI wrote in an April 2 trade advisory.

In a separate advisory, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) said that the import containers evacuated out of the terminals at Mundra Port are getting accumulated at nearby CFSs.

“We need to put additional efforts to continue the work at Mundra Port,” Avinash Rai, Chief Operating Officer, APSEZ wrote in the advisory.

Rai urged importers and agencies involved in import clearance/transportation to start taking delivery of import loaded containers. At the same time, essential labour may be deployed by CFSs to handle the export-related work (unloading of trucks/stuffing of containers).

The CFSAI said that ports/terminals and CFSs are functioning on being declared as essential services and hence excluded from the lockdown restrictions.

“But, other stakeholders and service providers in the export-import (EXIM) containerized trade are either not functioning or functioning marginally due to whatsoever reasons,” Grover wrote in the advisory.

Urging all stakeholders in the containerized EXIM trade in general and importers/CHAs and other persons involved in clearing containers to commence taking deliveries of import laden containers from the respective CFSs, the CFSAI said that documentation/delivery/payment counters at CFSs are open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

The CFSAI has also assured all importers / CHAs and all other visitors coming to CFSs in connection with clearance and delivery of containers that its members were committed to combating and containing the spread of coronavirus.

“All our member CFSs have taken utmost care and initiated several safety and health-related precautionary measures keeping in mind the health of their staff and also the persons visiting CFSs for clearance of goods to contain the spread of the pandemic,” it said.

The CFSs, though, said that they “would not be responsible for any actions of the trade-in not clearing imported goods from their facilities”, it added.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

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