Unisame blasts shipping lines for extra fees

KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) has urged the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Maritime Affairs Mehmoud Moulvi to address the issue of difficulties created by shipping companies, a statement said.

Unisame Chairman Zulfikar Thaver said that shipping companies apply a $200 bill of lading (B/L) late pickup fee every 7 days, which means that with each additional week an unfair charge of $200 is added which has never happened before.

Shipping lines are overbooking and issuing more reservations than available space on ships due to increased stranded cargo, he said.

HMI Logistics Director Hussain Ali Ratnani said shipping lines charge export detention and port damage fees on cargo held up due to overbooking.

Zeeshan Nazim, a major commodity exporter, said shipping lines impose a $1,000 penalty on canceled export bookings, adding that some lines impose it on one-off bookings while fees to get a modification on the next ship are 400 dollars.

Small and medium-sized business (SME) exporters have complained that shipping companies have started charging priority shipping fees or shipping guarantee fees other than freight charges, ranging from $500 to $2,000 on the guaranteed loading.

The Unisame Council said exports would suffer if such abusive practices continued and SMEs would be hit hardest.

The Council requested SAPM to urgently convene a meeting of shipping companies and warn them to end these practices and not take unfair advantage of the container shortage caused by empty shipping containers to China and other countries causing difficulty for shippers.