Shipping lines have repositioned 1.84m TEUs so far: Sarbananda Sonowal

In order to tackle the freight transport crisis due to the global shortage of containers, the government has formed an interdisciplinary task force, which is taking coordinated action on identified avenues, including the commissioning of additional capacity. shipping and container transport and increased importation of empty containers by shipping companies, Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Tuesday.

“Regular interaction with shipping companies and their association has increased the availability of the number of empty imported containers. So far, 1.84 million TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) have been repositioned by shipping lines,” Sonowal said in a written response to a question to Rajya Sabha.

In addition, new services to West Africa, the United States, Europe and the Far East have been launched by shipping lines, further increasing container supply and space availability. on ships. The SCI has also diverted a 4,500 TEU container ship “SCI Chennai” engaged in coastal trade to EXIM trade from October 3, 2021, it added.

The working group

The interdisciplinary working group is comprised of officials from the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Railways, Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBIC) as well as stakeholders such as the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO).

“The Task Force, after considerable stakeholder consultation, is taking coordinated action on the leads identified, including commissioning additional shipping/container capacity, including improved import of empty containers by shipping companies to the country, improved operational planning by facilitating close coordination between exporters and shipping companies, release of abandoned/detained/seized containers,” the Minister told the Upper House of Parliament.

Other efforts include increasing the duty-free stay of containers, freight discounts for empty repositioning by railways, measures to improve container turnaround times through tracking and monitoring dwell times to effectively improve container availability, seeking possible ways to promote the use of bulk/miscellaneous movement by exporters over containerized movement wherever possible, Sonowal said.

Apart from that, the Directorate General of Navigation (DGS) had issued a notice on September 14, 2021 to shipping company freight forwarders, non-vessel operating public carriers, the multimodal transport operator, the customs agent operating in India advising them not to levy special priority charges for giving any priority to containers.

COVID impact

The pandemic has forced governments around the world to impose restrictions on ship calls, quarantine period and crew change, which has impacted the movement of goods. This, coupled with a significant growth in demand, has led to congestion at ports, thus leading not only to a shortage of containers, but also to an increase in transport costs.

Average market rate levels for shipping goods from India to North European core ports have increased from $500-$950 (pan-India) in January 2020 to $4,700-$6,800 in January 2020. Similarly, the average market rates from India to the United States increased from $1,650. -2,300 in January 2020 at $8,400-11,300. Rates are for 20ft and 40ft containers.

Likewise, freight volumes were also affected. According to government data, cargo volumes at major ports fell to 672.68 million tonnes (mt) in FY21 from 704.93 mt in FY20. non-major ports also decreased to 577.12 mt in FY21 from 604.84 mt in FY20. Total freight traffic fell to 1,249.80 tons in the last fiscal year from 1,309.77 tons in fiscal 2020.

Published on

February 08, 2022