Aimed at tracing the root cause of high charges, the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) has constituted a committee to look into the issues related to high handling charges at the port and the International Container Transshipment Terminal(ICTT), Vallarpadam. The decision to constitute a committee was taken at the meeting of the Board of Trustees held on Wednesday.
“Apart from the two top officials of the CPT, the committee also comprises representatives of steamer agents, labour trustees, clearing and forwarding agencies, seafood exporters and other stake holders. The committee is expected to submit a report within a month after collecting data from other ports,” sources said. The issue of high charges in Kochi was given priority at the board meeting.
Despite its geographical advantages, high handling charges have always been a setback to the CPT’s growth.
While the Port Trust authorities make it clear that the charges exacted in Kochi are in accordance with the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) regulations, the charges often go up three to five fold.
CPT authorities attribute it to causes like storage, packing, loading and unloading on which they have no control.
“We hope to address the issue after tracing its root cause and facilitate the port’s growth. The committee will scrutinise every step of cargo handling,” sources said.
Recently, owing to high handling charges, the Union Ministry of Fertilisers had decided to shift fertiliser import for the Fertlisers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) from Kochi to Tuticorin. The cost of handling fertilizers in Kochi is 1,726 per tonne, while the charge at Tuticorin for the same is `848.
None of the ports in India exact more than `900 per tonne.
Around 12 lakh tonnes of fertilizers are being handled at Tuticorin port in a month. A comparison of charges at Cochin and Tuticorin ports shows that the FACT can reduce its import expenditure by 50 per cent if it is handled at Tuticorin.