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Congestions at global transhipment ports force shipping lines to pause cargo bookings

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MUMBAI : Congestions at major transhipment ports across the globe and resultant vessel delays seem to have prompted Main Line Operators (MLO’s) not to accept long transiting reefers and perishable cargoes.

A communiqué issued by MSC Agency (India) Pvt Ltd here says that they have temporarily stopped bookings for US Ports due to prevailing congestion and vessel omission. Another major line also announced skipping of its call to Colombo Port for schedule recovery.

Mr. Alex K.Ninan, vice president of Seafood Exporters Association of India said the MLO’s advisory will hit marine products exports to the US as well as the reviving Chinese markets because of delay in timely delivery. Already there is a 50 per cent hike in freight charges and the present situation would add up the cost further.

The advisories would enhance transit time to more than two months to the US ports, which would enable Ecuador to make more inroads to the US markets by supplying cargo in 10 days. Tea traders in Cochin auctions also raised apprehension over congestion at transhipment ports including container shortage which is likely to slow down tea exports.

Mr. K.S.Binu, President of Kerala Steamer Agents Association said MLO’s are reluctant to accept long transiting containers and perishable cargo as they are quite uncertain about the connection to final destinations. MLO’s are picky about the dry cargo and do not give any indication about the connections from transshipment points for they already have piled up back logs at these ports.

He pointed out that transhipment delays and port congestions are causing supply chain disruptions all over. MLO’s are not accepting cargo to some US ports and some European ports to ease out the traffic which is already in turmoil. Space constraints in the vessels particularly for US destined cargo affects the exporters. Europe and Middle East cargo also faces the same situation, resulting in a spurt in freight rates.

Equipment imbalance, pile up of units in transshipment hubs and berthing delay of vessels are visible at almost all the major ports. Though there is no shortage of equipment at the moment, Cochin is also witnessing berthing delays, he said. This is mainly because of the late arrival of vessels from the other ports. Vessels are losing their window berthing due to congestion at other ports which has a cascading effect on Cochin terminal also.

Colombo is experiencing monsoon related slow operations and delay in berthing and there is huge backlog of transshipments. This is affecting inbound cargo shipments to Indian ports. No respite is expected in the coming 3-4 months as the situation is getting worse in almost all parts of the world, he added.

Mr. Prakash Iyer, Chairman, Cochin Port users Forum said the entire shipping industry and trade is suffering due to congestions, resulting in the cost of Exim trade to go up. The delays of loading also make the trade to lose fresh contracts

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