Logistics challenges hit exports, imports

 thehindu.com  11/22/2020 17:41:36 

Uncertainty over schedule of feeder vessels that come to Thoothukudi and Kochi ports for the last few weeks has hit exports and imports from Coimbatore region.

From garments and food items, a wide range of products are exported and imported from this region and these are mostly through the Kochi and Thoothukudi ports.

Coimbatore Custom House and Steamer Agents Association president P. Subramaniam told The Hindu that the problem started last month because of second wave of COVID-19 spread in Sri Lanka. Several handling workers at the Colombo port were affected by the disease. Further, there was a labour strike, too, at the port. Only earlier this week, Sri Lanka brought port service under Essential Services so that its operations are not affected.

A vessel that left India on November 13 is yet to get berth in Colombo port, he said. This has led to uncertainty over arrival and departure schedules of Colombo feeder vessels at Thoothukudi, Chennai, and Kochi ports. Exported goods are lying in containers and imported products are yet to reach the Indian shores. Transhipment to the European countries and the US are also affected. Further, there is shortage in availability of empty containers. Last week, about 6,000 containers that should have come to Thoothukudi were not available, he said.

With problems at Colombo, shipping lines are diverting vessels to other ports. This has led to congestion at Singapore port, resulting in delays there too.

Vessel operators and shipping lines are revising their rates. The situation may return to normal only after a few days and this is resulting in higher logistics cost for exporters and importers, he said.

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