The Kerala Exporters’ Forum has voiced concern over higher rates and transit time in Cochin Port, which has led to a shifting of cargo to other ports.
Taking note of the concerns of the exporters’ fraternity, the Cochin Port Authority has held several rounds of discussions with the shipping lines and the Kerala Steamer Agents’ Association.
The shipping lines, while assuring the best possible support, have agreed to discuss the freight rates with the individual shippers. They were hopeful that the rates would come down in the coming days, port officials said.
On the transit time to the CCG countries, the representatives of the shipping lines said Cochin is connected through two direct weekly services to Jebel Ali and the transit time is five-six days. Ports of other GCC countries are generally connected from Jebel Ali in another 5-6 days. They assured special attention to time-sensitive containers, the officials added.
Hameed Ali, president, KEF, said the market has been in revival post-Covid. However, the exporters’ fraternity has been forced to ship its consignments from other neighbouring ports due to the high rates prevailing in Kochi. Even after considering the transportation cost to these ports, he said the total shipping cost was higher at Kochi, besides the longer transit time compared to other ports.
The exporters fraternity pointed out that imports of orange and dates has been shifted to Mumbai where procedures are much easier It pointed out that banana exports can be brought to Kochi if a favourable tariff is offered in the city. The delay in clearance is mainly attributed to FSSAI, forcing exporters to shift their cargo imports to Chennai or Mumbai, they added.
The port authorities asked the exporters to share the tentative volume per week from the Malabar region, so that steamer agents could make proper plans. He asked KEF representatives to provide a tentative volume of exports so that the shipping lines can take appropriate action for availability of containers at competitive rates.
Rubber exporters from Kasargod said they preferred Cochin Port as their port of loading even though Mangaluru was closer to them. They requested steamer agents for support by way of more discounts.