Sri Lankan shippers say new rule abused to levy unfair fees

ECONOMYNEXT – A new global rule requiring verification of container weights is being abused by some companies which move freight to levy extra charges and make unfair profits, the head of the Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council said.

Sean van Dort, chairman of the Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council (SLSC), said unfair trade practices were continuing despite government regulations being gazetted that prohibit such charges.

“Unfortunately a handful of shippers had not read the gazette notification and have become victims of their own ignorance,” he told the SLSC’s annual general meeting.

Some businesses in the shipping trade were still lobbying to reverse the government regulations but the SLSC would keep up pressure to prevent it, van Dort said.

The new International Maritime Organisation rule requiring shippers and freight forwarders to independently verify the weight of containers comes into effect today, 1 July 2016, but would only be enforced from October to give the trade time to adjust.

“A simple IMO regulation has become a money making racket,” van Dort said, adding that the new rule was being used by some carriers of freight to levy penalties and fees for lodging information and even washing containers from shippers.

“Sometimes these fees are more expensive than the freight charge for moving of goods to another country,” he said.

“Most of these charges are coming from international players,” he added. “Some firms are trying to make an extra margin. We will confront them to prevent shippers being penalised.” (COLOMBO, July 01, 2016)

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