President of the TT Automotive Dealers Association Visham Babwah is calling on Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan to increase the rent-free days at the port for incoming cargo because of the coronavirus-initiated global slowdown.
Babwah told the Newsday although borders are closed, goods are still coming through the ports. But because of the social-distancing policy, and reduction in the number of people congregating in one area, the operations at the ports have slowed considerably.
“Usually when we have goods coming in containers, we are given a certain amount of free days – like five rent-free days.”
He explained different imports in and out of containers have varying free days to process the import requirements and for the importer to pick up the container from the port.
“Because of the slowdown of everything, you have a shortage of manpower in every department. This will no doubt slow down the system, and importers will have to pay an additional cost.
“The system in which we now operate is an online system where you have to upload your documents and the different agencies do an electronic release before it could go down to the port. This takes time.”
He said, “Business is already slow and getting very bad. In addition to the port charges, we also have a demurrage charge (a charge which is levied by the shipping line due to a delay in taking delivery of a container), and those charges could increase as the days go by. To get an additional cost on top of what we have to deal with now would not make any sense, so we would like to get some additional free days when our goods come into the ports.
In response, Sinanan said that is a decision for the port commissioners to handle.
“They can write to the port and the port commissioners will deal with that.”