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Customs house brokers pledge to bring back the lost cargo to Chennai port

The Chennai Custom House Brokers the backbone of the port industry have pledged to restore the premier position enjoyed by the Chennai port by bringing back the lost cargo to neighbouring ports but laid down the steps to be taken by the port administration to achieve this goal.

The brokers who are in the midst of a hectic election campaign to elect the office bearers of their Association on September nine but the ruling group led by outgoing President K V V Giri has released fifty one point election manifesto pledging their commitment to the growth of chennai port and the shipping industry at a function held here on August 28. Door to door campaigning in the port area has commenced.

The issues raised in the manifesto include movement of export containers continue to pose a challenge in Chennai port. The trade is losing share of export cargo in Chennai Port. If elected the team would do the needful to eliminate the suffering.

Explaining the issue an office bearer told Sagar Sandesh that though overall congestion in the port has come down in the last one year, there are days when entry into the port from Sri City distance of 30 kilometers takes 36 to 72 hours. Efforts would be continued to remove the bottlenecks in the movement of export containers by interacting with stakeholders and the Chennai Traffic police.

Despite the commissioning of the Ennore Manali road improvement project EMRIP the last mile connectivity to Chennai port continues to be a problem on some days.

The sources said the time has come to review the role of the two container terminals operating at Chennai port.  Both the terminals are keen on handling import cargo with emphasis on quick discharge of the vessel from the port. Handling of export cargo is not given priority and consequently the export cargo move to nearby ports.

Another issue causing concern is the insistence of customs on paying penalty if the bill of entry is not filed within 24 hours of the arrrival of cargo. The penalty charged by the customs is passed on to the brokers by the importers.

The sources said the penalty has to be paid by the importers under the regulations but they pass it on to us. We have represented to finance Minister Arun Jaitley to take up with the Central Board of Excise and Customs about the need for giving more time to the trade to file the bill of entry.

Both exporters of Marine cargo and importers of perishables like fruits faced a problem in Chennai port due to inadequate plug point to charge the system. They would take up with Chennai Port administration to increase plug points which will help in reducing the transaction cost.

They would also impress upon the need to improve the infrastructure at Central Ware Housing Corporation's ware houses in Madhavaram and Virugambakkam. Space is a serious constraint and there are limited number of forklifts to carry the cargo.

The Authorised Economic Operators percentage of clearance from Chennai port is around 17 per cent at present. The brokers association will ensure that special status to be conferred to more members. AEO status gives facilities for speedy clearance of cargo with minimum intervention by the Customs.

The Direct Port Delivery in the Chennai port is around 21 per cent of the total imports handled. The brokers would work with the port administration to increase the quntum of DPD. Under this system the imports directly move to the manfacturer/customers godowns and customs examinations if any take place there.

Under normal circumstances, the imports move to Container Freight Stations where the cargo is destuffed and examined by customs, stuffed into containers once again and taken to the manufacturers’ premises. DPD saves lot of time and helps in better inventory managment for the manufacturing companies.

There are disputes between the brokers and the Steamer Agents regarding damages to containers while they are handled at the port and container freight stations. A solution would be found with insurance companies as one time solution.

The association will also press the customs administration to post more officers at the emerging ports of Ennore and Katupalli in keeping with the increased work load in these ports.

Hectic campaigning is on between four panels. Elections among the 800 odd customs brokers operating at Chennai port will take place in September nine and the new set of office bearers will hold office for a two year term.

 


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