KOCHI: The week-long strike by the container lorry drivers has been settled. But seafood exporters in Kochi are still lost in a cloud of anxiety. The festival season in Europe is just around the corner and they fear a loss of business. Given the lengthy export procedures, consignments perhaps will not reach their destinations in time to tap into the festival market.“Besides losing a good season, we are now unable to keep our word to clients owing to the container lorry strike,” said Alex K Ninan of Baby Marine International who is also president of the Kerala chapter of Seafood Exporters Association of India. With 1,800 container lorries staying off the road over the past week, nearly 300 containers awaiting shipping were blocked.
Though the exact figure is yet to be calculated, the loss to the industry owing to the strike is estimated to be Rs 250-300 crore in one week, besides the possible loss of further business from clients.
“The holiday season in Europe is expected to begin by December 10. If we are not able to make the delivery on time, it will affect the business during the Christmas season. It takes 20 to 25 days for a container to reach its destination in Europe. There will be another delay of two or three days for completion of formalities before it goes out. Even though the strike is called off, we are not hopeful of delivering the consignment as per the schedule,” said Ninan
He pointed out any setback in seafood export would have a serious impact on allied sectors.
With storage facilities running short of space, exporting companies are hesitant to procure more catch from fishermen. “This will have an adverse impact on fishermen, but processed seafood has to be kept in pristine conditions,” said Ninan.
The strike was called off on Tuesday following a discussion trade union leaders had with Transport Minister Thomas Chandy and other senior officers of the Department of Transport in Thiruvananthapuram. According to union leaders, the major demands raised by them have been accepted.
‘’We have been assured there will not be any more harassment of drivers over weight. It has also been decided to lift the suspension of licences,” said union leader Dhaneesh Neerikode.