Due to the paucity of labour and equipment operators in the midst of the nationwide lockdown , shipments have not been loaded for up to 10-15 days of arrival of the container at the container freight station, a logistics industry official has reported.
In addition to this, container freight station operators have allegedly refused to adhere to the directives from the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) on not charging storage charges from the consignees during the lockdown days, as per reports.
“The cargo movement came to a standstill during lockdown 1.0. It gradually started under lockdown 2.0 and 3.0. However, migration of labour and drivers from cities to their hometowns has created labour shortages at port, airports, CFSs and Inland Container Depots (ICDS).”~Lancy Barboza, Managing Director, Flomic Global Logistics.
Barboza also added, “Truck drivers have also moved back to their home towns in large numbers and now there is a huge shortage of trucks and trailers which has severely impacted movement of domestic and international cargo”.
The ports along with the CFS, were open during the lockdown however, due to the fear of coronavirus infection and shortage of labourers, the clearance of cargo was severely affected.
“This labour crunch coupled with shortage of equipment operators has led to LCL (Less Than Container load) containers not getting de-stuffed for 10-15 days of their arrival at the CFS and the consignees are being charged for these extra storage days,” Barboza said.
The DG Shipping had issued an order on April 22, deciding that for the second lockdown period, the shipping companies or carriers will not charge any levy or recover any penal charges, demurrage, ground rent, storage charges in the port on cargo owners/consignees of non-containerised cargo whether LCL or not for the period from April 15 to May 3 due to delay in berthing, loading/unloading operations or evacuation/arrival of cargo.
On March 29, it had issued an advisory on non-charging of container detention charges on import and export shipments for the period from March 22 to April 14.
“However, the CFS operators refuse to pay heed to the well-intentioned directive of DG shipping not to charge the storage charges during the lockdown days and the consignees are suffering due to this,” Mr Barboza stated.
Barboza also pointed out that the logistics industry did not have much to take away from the stimulus package that was recently announced.
“Paying wages and salaries to the workforce is a huge burden on the logistics operators. The Industry was expecting a subsidy grant or an interest-free loan for three months of wage bill. This would have set to rest the anxieties of employers and employees in the logistics industry,” Barboza said.
He drew out a parallel with governmens from countries across the world, such as Italy, Spain, France and UK, where the governments have taken care of the 60 per cent of the employee’’s salary , thus resulting in them not having to worry about the day-to-day expenses, he said.
The stimulus package announced by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman includes 11 measures aimed at improving farm infrastructure and logistics and reform the agriculture sector.
“We find that the share of benefits to the logistics industry is this package is very little. From what we have understood, only the logistics companies who come under the new definition of MSME will be able to get additional loan funding from Banks for a three year period.
“Also there is a reduction in Provident Fund which is applicable to all industries”, Barboza added.