With minor ports handling considerable share of cargo, trade unions in the shipping sector have come up with the demand that minor ports be brought under the purview of the Tariff Authority of Major Ports (TAMP). All India Port and Dock Workers’ Federation, a major confederation of TUs in the shipping sector, has approached the Union Ministry of Shipping with this demand.
It is pointed out that many of minor ports in the country are larger than the 12 major ports in terms of facilities. “The minor ports handle 40 per cent of the maritime trade. At the same time, major ports, being crippled by the control of TAMP, are striving to compete with the non-major ports for existence. The TAMP is using its age-old conventional tools to fix the rates for the major ports, which always become unrealistic and do not prove beneficial for the port,” said P M Mohamed Haneef, general secretary of the federation.
To substantiate his argument about TAMP’s control over major ports, Haneef points out the dredging expenditure of Cochin Port. “The actual expenditure for one hour of dredging comes to `58,000 and the port has fixed a rate of `60,000 per hour. But the TAMP instruction is to collect `35,000 from the Cochin Shipyard. TAMP is of the opinion that the dredging cost shall be taken into account while fixing the Vessel Related Charges (VRC). Though it is common that dredging cost gets loaded in the VRC, but the Cochin Port, as part of the effort to attract more cargo, is offering rebate of upto 89 per cent on VRC. Under such circumstances, TAMP’s suggestion of regaining the dredging cost by loading it into the VRC is practically not possible,” he said.
However, steamer agents, who are major stakeholders in the sector, believe that bringing minor ports under the purview of TAMP would have only an adverse impact. “If minor ports are brought under the control of TAMP, they will not be able to offer competitive charges as they will have to then comply with the charges fixed by TAMP,” said an office-bearer of the Cochin Steamer Agents Association.