The shipping fraternity in Cochin Port Trust has alleged that India Gateway Terminal Private Limited (IGTPL), the DP World entity that runs the international container transhipment terminal in Cochin Port Trust, continues to bill importers and CFS operators a new direct port delivery and en-bloc movement charge, even after being ticked off by the rate regulator that such charges should be levied only with its nod.

Terming the move as illegal, Prakash Iyer, Chairman of Cochin Port Users Forum, said that few importers under compulsion have agreed to register with the terminal operator and sign documents favouring the trade notice issued by IGTPL. However, these importers have later opposed the move, Iyer said.

No Approval

The Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has informed Cochin Port Trust that the charges levied at the rate of ?800 for 20 ft containers and ?1,200 for 40 ft containers, does not have its backing. The Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) operators running terminals at major ports can levy tariff for services rendered by them after seeking approval of the Authority, per Section 48 of the Major Port Trusts Act. This is the statute position.

“It is relevant here to state that the said trade notices issued by the IGTPL for levy of DPD charges and CFS En-bloc charges, does not have approval ,” TAMP wrote to Cochin Port.

“In view of the above position and taking into consideration the point made by Licensor Port (Cochin Port) in its letters dated 20 September 2021 and 1 October 2021 to IGTPL, I am directed to convey that DPD charges and CFS charges mentioned in Trade notices No. 114 and 120 dated 23 August 2021 does not have approval of the Authority. Levy of such charges shall be at risk and consequences of IGTPL,” TAMP told Cochin Port and IGTPL, while advising the terminal operator to file a “suitable proposal” in this regard.

Against Interests

In this backdrop, Cochin Port Users Forum said that IGTPL’s move is against the interest of trade as it will impact imports through Kochi. The Users Forum plans to approach higher authorities to recall the notice issued by IGTPL, if the issue was not resolved, Iyer noted. “We are of the view that any change in the process or implementing any new charges should be based on discussions with stakeholders”, he added.

“We have clarified our position to TAMP with regard to the matter of direct port delivery charges,” DP World said in an e-mailed response to BusinessLine.

Source: The Hindu Business Line