Kathmandu, September 27
Some of the shipping liners have agreed to issue combined bill of lading of Nepal-bound cargo from the port of loading to the place of delivery (Inland Clearance Depot, Birgunj). Till date shipping liners have been issuing bill of lading from loading port to destination port — Kolkata — the gateway port of Nepal for third-country trade.
Shipping liners do not take any liability of goods after the cargo is delivered to the Kolkata port. As a result, Nepali importers have been compelled to bear all the costs that are accrued due to inefficiency of port and transit transport, such as detention charges and other fees.
Under the initiative of Himalayan Terminal Pvt Ltd (HTPL), terminal management firm of ICD Birgunj, shipping liners like Maersk Line, Safmarine, among others have agreed to deliver cargo to ICD Birgunj.
Normally, shipping liners issue bill of lading to the destination port but they were reluctant to issue bill of lading to ICD Birgunj as it has not been identified as an international port. However, after a dialogue between the shipping liners, HTPL and Container Corporation (CONCOR) India, the aforementioned shipping liners have agreed to issue combined bill of lading to ICD Birgunj.
Once the process is started, importers in Nepal can receive cargo in a single document from the port of loading to port of delivery, explained RB Rauniar, director of HTPL.
After shipping liners issue bill of lading with ICD Birgunj as the destination port, it will be the responsibility of shipping liners to deal with CONCOR for the timely delivery of goods. Though shipping liners will deliver the cargo to ICD Birgunj, importers must handle customs transit declaration process and other procedures required at Kolkata port that are governed by the Nepal-India Transit Treaty like before.
This facility, which the shipping liners are going to extend, is expected to simplify the transit transport.
“HTPL is in negotiation with other shipping liners too,” said Rauniar, adding, “This will facilitate Nepal’s third-country trade.”
Currently, shipping liners have been extending grace period of normally 21 days to return their containers at Kolkata port from the date of cargo container being dispatched to Nepal. If there is a delay due to obstruction in rail movement or any other reason, shipping liners charge high detention charges of around $80 per day from importers.
Nepali importers had to bear huge detention charges during the border blockade last year as the containers unloaded in Birgunj dryport were detained for long due to the Indian Railways suspending operation citing congestion at the Birgunj port and travel disruptions by the agitating Madhes-based political parties.
More importantly, after the cargo was delivered to the Kolkata port, the entire responsibility of the cargo was transferred to the traders as per the existing system. But after the shipping line starts issuing bill of lading to ICD Birgunj, concerned shipping liner will also bear all liabilities of cargo in transit from Kolkata to Birgunj.
A version of this article appears in print on September 28, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.