The Federation of Freight Forwarders’ Associations in India (FFFAI) has urged the Government as well as its own members to adopt pragmatic approach and practices to deal with the post-lockdown pressure, as moving towards a new normal amidst lockdown 4.0 will bring up new challenges for cargo operations.
FFFAI has sent a number of delegations and correspondences to the Ministry of Commerce, Finance, Shipping, Aviation and Home Affairs separately to address the issues being faced by Custom Brokers, Freight Forwarders and entire logistics industry during ongoing lock down/curfew and possible impact on post lockdown period as regard to customs clearance and physical evacuation/operation of cargo.
Delay, demurrage, detention, ground rent, storage charges or any other extra charges and likely enhanced freight charges would be the prime areas of concern.
Furthermore, FFFAI has also organised on-line meetings/Webinar inviting trade experts and government representatives to discuss the prevailing and forthcoming issues pertaining to the impact of COVID 19 pandemic and lockdown on the Exim trade as well as logistics industry.
“We, our members, continue to serve the economy of the country as Custom Brokers risking their lives, to be in the forefront to handle Exim cargo at the Customs and other related locations across the country. In fact, it is not the Customs Brokers who have resisted the deliveries to the Customers, but the Customer due to their own constraints,”~Mr A V Vijaykumar, Chairman, FFFAI while underscoring the critical role being played by the Customs Brokers
He further shared that Customs Brokers, with difficulty but also with pride, are overcoming the challenges thrown by the lockdown – be it , non-availability of transport vehicles for movement of cargo or public transport for travel of their staff, or the limited functioning of many Shipping Lines, Airlines, Freight Forwarders, NVOCCs, or major Custodians of cargo- ports, port terminals, air cargo terminals, CFSs, ICDs, Land Custom Station etc, who are operating with limited manpower and equipment. “We have re-established our brand that “we deliver” and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of our entire fraternity to have carved a success story of our capabilities,”
Commenting on eventualities of further increase in transaction as well as overall logistics cost Mr Vijaykumar made clear, “With all the limitations prevailing now, there are bound to be delays in handling/delivering of cargo, leading to additional costs though not attributable to our service standards.”
He however commended the support extended by Custom Authorities across the country in terms of cost-effective and time-efficient solutions – waiving late submission fee in Imports and digital processing of documents.
Mr Vijaykumar also appealed to all FFFAI members to play a very positive role for containing the virus by adhering to MHA guidelines of wearing mask, frequent usage of sanitizer, social distancing, work from home wherever possible, avoid unnecessary travel etc.
Asking people to practice self-caution, he said, “Treat ourselves as though we are a carrier of the virus – you will try to protect others; treat all others as though they are carriers of the virus – you will protect yourself.” The FFFAI Chairman also suggested industry practitioners to protect own business interest at this crisis time in terms of payment mechanism, credit limit and bearing of extra charges which are not in the CB’s control, while at the same time serving the clients effectively and efficiently.