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Container turning charges levied by Chennai terminals not valid, rules the Tariff authority for major ports (TAMP)

The Container Turning Charges levied on twenty foot import containers by the two terminals of Chennai port are not valid since it did not have the prior sanction of the statutory Tariff Authority for Major ports (TAMP), a top Official of the TAMP said in a letter to the Port administration on August one.

After the ruling that the levy did not have specific approval of the Authority and therefore be discontinued, Chennai Port administration has been directed to ensure that the BOT Operators do not levy any charges (on the trade) that did not have their prior sanction.

The container terminals run by the DP world and PSA say that the levy is confined to 20 foot containers when two of them taken delivery in a single truck. When the 2 twenty foot containers are taken in a single truck certain movement of containers had to be done to comply with customs requirement on seal examination.

The extra movement of containers to facilitate customs clearance has been going for several years with the PSA terminal deferring billing due to trade's request. However the terminal is not able to absorb the cost any longer due to current economic situation.

The levy can be avoided only if the customs exempted the examination of seal number checking prior to the delivery of the containers. At present the container door must be placed in the outward direction to enable the check by the customs of the seal number.

While the levy to facilitate on wheel customs inspection should have been rs 440 per container as per the tariff, terminals reduced the rate to Rs 354 at the request of the trade.

The terminals also contended that the charges have been derived from the approved TAMP tariff.

The port administration in a letter to the terminal operators last year said the licensee (terminal operator) is not entitled collect charges which are not approved by the TAMP for render their services. The administration therefore directed the licensee to stop levy of any charges not approved by the TAMP. The terminals continue to levy the charges.

TAMP in its communication to the Chennai Port Chairman said though the container turning charges levied by terminals run by DP World and PSA in Chennai Port have been derived by them by adopting some of the existing rates (prescribed by TAMP), the charges do not have the specific approval of the Authority.

In view of the above position, the Chennai Port Trust, in the capacity of the Licensor Port, is requested to ensure that the BOT Operators (the terminals)do not levy any charges which did not have the specific approval of the Authority.

The communication was sent by Ms Jyothi Venkatachalam, Joint Director of the Mumbai based Authority in a communication to Chennai Port Chairman dated August first.

In the communication she also stated that though the Chennai Port is seen to have advised the BOT Operators (the terminals) to refrain from levy of the said charges, the terminals continue to levy the container turning charges.

She said the authority is mandated to frame the scale of rates as per section 48 of the Major Port Trusts Act 1963. Therefore any charges to be levied by the terminal operators should have the approval of the Authority.

She also pointed out that the Chennai Port Trust as a licensor port is of the view that turning around of containers by the terminal operators to facilitate customs inspection is a routine activity to be performed by the Custodian of the containers namely the BOT Operators.

All eyes are on the Chennai port administration what it intends to do with the Authority's latest missive and how the terminal operators respond to the long pending demand of the trade to dispense with Container turning charges.


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