Hapag-Lloyd said Tuesday it will apply “port congestion surcharges” on all containerized cargo moving to and from Chennai, the second major Indian port to attract such charges in recent weeks.
The planned surcharges effective Sept. 5 will be $50 per 20-foot equivalent unit on export shipments and $65 per TEU on import consignments.
“The Port of Chennai is showing an increased congestion impacting the terminal productivity as well as vessel sailing schedules, both resulting in increased cost exposure,” the German ocean carrier said.
The disruptions at Chennai were primarily triggered by a series of strikes by container truck drivers from end-June to mid-July to protest increased vehicle turnaround times, creating a huge import backlog. According to the latest update from port sources, the terminal yard inventory held more than 12,000 containers, mostly imports, as of Tuesday morning.
“The single port gate access has put a tremendous strain on the terminal operators with the result that truckers are required to wait for hours in long queues to enter the terminal area,” a shipping line agent at Chennai said. “In a bid to control the situation, the terminal has reduced the export carting time from 4 days to 3 days but the congestion does not seem to ease”.
Chennai currently has two terminals: DP World-managed Chennai Container Terminal and the Chennai International Terminals operated by Singapore’s PSA International. It handled 1.52 million TEUs in fiscal 2011 that ended March 31, and 552,000 TEUs from April through July.
Several major carriers including Hapag-Lloyd earlier slapped similar surcharges on the trade moving through Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru) following severe terminal congestion and berthing delays caused by the quay crane replacement at the port-run terminal.
Almost 75 percent of India’s total containerized traffic moves through Nhava Sheva and Chennai, and the unprecedented turmoil at these ports could have serious adverse impact on government efforts to boost the country’s global export trade, targeted at $450 billion by 2013-14.