THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: One may have thought the countrywide lockdown and subsequent blockade of border roads by Karnataka have affected the movement of cargo in the state. But not significantly, according to official figures. The movement of cargo across the border by rail and road has continued in the state while goods, including around 500 tonnes of vegetables and fruits, were exported to west Asian markets from three airports.
There has been some fall in the quantity of export, but it is due to the air traffic regulations and not because of the non-availability of perishable or non-perishable goods. “Presently, cargo is exported by charting special flights while on normal days, they used to be carried in aircraft’s belly,” said Jayaraj P V, general manager (KSIE), Trivandrum International Airport.
Movement of goods by road and rail has been stable. Around 1.5 lakh tonnes of goods reached Kerala by different goods trains from March 21 to Friday of which 80,000 tonnes including 35,000 tonnes of rice reached the stations under Trivandrum division. A spokesperson with the Trivandrum Division said the average freight movement speed is around 20 km/hour on normal days. But now due to the absence of passenger trains, the speed of freight movement is above 50km/hr. The Railways is also fully equipped to supply goods according to the demand of the state, he added.
When it comes to goods movement by road, as many as 2,153 trucks reached the state on Wednesday, 1,720 on Thursday and 1,620 trucks on Friday morning. The average truck movement to the state per day was 2,560 in February. The drop in number of trucks cannot be interpreted as shortage of goods or lack of truck movement. All over the country, there has been a drop in the movement of goods due to the lockdown. The goods movement to the state is stable except the border issues, said a Transport Department official.
The health officials deputed at checkposts like Muthanga have been delaying the inspection of trucks from Kerala to other parts of the country through Karnataka. Obviously, this would affect speed of goods movement to and from the state through Karnataka, but this would not make any big difference in the supply of essential items to the state, he said. “We’ve already taken up this matter with the authorities and hopefully there would be some solution in the coming days,” he added.
Rlys invokes force majeure
Railways has decided that the period from March 22 to April 14 shall be treated under ‘force majeure’. During the aforesaid period, no demurrage, wharfage, stacking, stabling, detention and ground usage charges will be levied. A force majeure(FM) means extraordinary events or circumstances beyond human control such as an event described as an Act of God (like a natural calamity). Clarifying that the spread of corona virus should be considered a natural calamity and that the Force Majeure Clause may be invoked, the Railway Ministry has decided that the period shall be treated under force majeure. Zonal Railways have been advised to coordinate with the state government to ensure logistics support to keep up the movement of essential goods. Earlier on March 23, the Railway Board had issued instructions that there will be no haulage charges for movement of empty containers/empty flat wagons from March 24 to March 30.
Charges exempted for lockdown period
➌Stacking ➍ Stabling, Demurrage in case of privately/jointly owned stock ➎ Demurrage on parcel traffic ➏Wharfage on parcel traffic
➐ Detention Charge in case of container traffic
➑ Ground Usage Charge in case of container traffic