Despite protests from the exim trade, the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) has approved of India Gateway Terminal (IGTPL) to carry out a tariff hike at Vallarpadam Terminal, with effect from November 13.
A TAMP notification reaching here has sanctioned the terminal operator to effect a 4.5 per cent increase in the scale of rates from the existing charges, based on the deficit position filed by the company in its cost statement.
According to the shipping fraternity, any kind of tariff increase in the Vallarpadam Terminal will impact the trade at a time when the price of cargo service has below the revenue levels.
“If implemented, Kochi will be the most expensive port among major ports and this will lead to diversion of ships to neighbouring ports,” Prakash Iyer, President of Cochin Steamer Agents Association, said.
Out of the 4 lakh TEUs containers handled per annum at Kochi, he said 25 per cent of such cargo is empty and coastal and any hike in the rates will affect coastal cargo movement as well.
The discounts offered by IGTPL is only in favour of selective cargo owners from other States, whereas the exim trade in Kerala is the largest sufferer paying out additional charges without any other options than using IGTPL. The port users also sought the intervention of the Kerala government to make the port trade friendly.
When the business through Kochi Port is slowly picking up, the decision to increase the rates will only arrest the small but positive trend. ,”We fear that the current move will reverse all the good work done to date and will only serve to further deplete the cargo handled by the port,” says Shaji Varghese, President of Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The need of the hour is to attract cargo and for this, the operator should think of competitive pricing rather than increasing the same, he said. The only way in which ICTT can attract more cargo is to add value by providing highly efficient and cost-effective solutions to the trade.
However, the present move will certainly hamper the existing trade, which is at present operating on bare minimum margins of profit, he said.
It is pointed out that IGTPL had approached TAMP with a request to hike the rates from January 1 this year. However, it was deferred during the time of hearing following concerns raised by various trade bodies.
It was alleged that the TAMP officials remained silent during the hearing and later came out with the notification allowing the terminal operator increase the rates.