Amid the nationwide lockdown, tens of thousands of uncleared import containers continues to choke Indian ports, informs the Container Shipping Lines Association of India (CSLA).
With such a huge number of import containers clogging supply chains at ports, there seems to be no clear roadmap to clear the overwhelming congestion at ports.
Sunil Vaswani, Executive Director, CSLA said, “Only 26,000 TEU had been cleared from container freight stations (CFSs) near Mumbai’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port, leaving more than 100,000 TEU lying uncollected.”
“Similarly, about 50,000 TEU is lying uncleared at Chennai. And, other ports, like Hazira for instance, are completely congested and have been forced to close their gates to imports and exports,” he added.
Vaswani, during an interaction with a media outlet, told that many shipping lines had granted additional free time for container storage, despite most privately operated terminals not offering the corresponding respite on port ground rent.
He, however, noted that this leniency policy appears to have backfired in the present view of situation. “[It] has proved counter-productive, with most importers and consignees using the containers as free warehousing as the factories are shut.”
He said the resulting congestion was also detrimental to the country’s exports, as there is very little space left at ports, CFSs and inland container depots to handle export volumes.
Carriers’ equipment is also being blocked by the uncleared cargo, Mr Vaswani added, leaving few available boxes for exports, which have shrunk by over 90% due to the factory closures and inland supply chain bottlenecks.
The congestion has also prompted concerns by some freight forwarders that India’s logistics sector will appear “unreliable” during a time of crisis.
Naveen Prakash, director of Global Logistics Solutions India, said: “The fact remains there are not many truck drivers and very stringent conditions on running factories, which is a great recipe for port congestion.”
Only medical and essential goods were allowed to be transported before 20 April, according to Mr Prakash, so “desperate” shippers quickly turned to airfreight.
“Until the pressure eases out of these [port] gateways, the situation will remain very challenging,” he noted.