The Ministry of Shipping has issued a notice to major ports in the country with directions to deal with issues arising due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Ministry, in its notice, directed all major ports to ensure that no penalties, demurrage (charges to be paid to the owner of a chartered ship on failure to load or discharge the ship within the time agreed), charges, fees, or rentals are imposed on traders, shipping lines, concessionaires, licensees or other port users for any delays due to the lockdown in the country.
Delays in berthing, loading or unloading operations, and the evacuation or arrival or cargo because of the imposition of the nationwide lockdown between March 22, 2020, and April 14, 2020, are to be exempted from any of the above charges.
The Ministry directed major ports in the country to exempt or remit demurrage, ground rent over and above the free period, penal anchorage or berth hire charges, and any other performance-related penalties that have been levied.
It added that these orders do not allow them to discontinue operations and that all ports are to remain operational for the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the force majeure declarations. The Ministry noted that the force majeure will start from the date of order of the Ministry of Finance and will end when the competent authority orders accordingly.
Additionally, ports were directed to extend deadlines for the completion of any public-private partnership projects under implementation. Ports are also permitted to waive off all penal consequences on a case-to-case basis.
Recently, Mercom reported that the Directorate General of Shipping (DGS), Mumbai, issued an advisory to shipping lines asking them not to impose any container detention charges on import shipments at Indian seaports to maintain proper supply lines in these turbulent times.
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Rakesh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Prior to joining Mercom, he worked in many roles as a business correspondent, assistant editor, senior content writer, and sub-editor with bcfocus.com, CIOReview/Silicon India, Verbinden Communication, and Bangalore Bias. Rakesh holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU).