By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on October 31, 2011:
CHENNAI: Despite the exim traders in South India coughing up over Rs 200 crores in the name of ‘Chennai Trade Recovery’ surcharge for sending or receiving their containers via Chennai Port to vessel operators in the last two-and-half months alone (besides usual charges), Chairman of the port trust Atulya Misra is yet to take a concrete action to solve the burning issue.Though the port management organised a meeting of all stake holders on Saturday to persuade the vessel operators to stop collecting CTR from traders henceforth, it turned out to be a farce at the end of the day as the port officials were reluctant to understand the bleeding conditions of traders and representatives responsible for withdrawing CTR failed to make it to the meeting.
Irked over the port trust’s attitude in the meeting that was primarily called to break the deadlock on the issue, a representative of traders’ community told Express that the port management, even after three months and Rs 200 crore extra money to foreign companies by traders, was yet to understand what was congestion and how it could be solved.
When reporters asked Atulya Misra about CTR surcharge during a function on Sunday, he remained evasive and said the port management has written letters to the Shipping and Commerce ministries about the issue.
“There is no congestion in the port now and the collection of CTR by vessel operators is illegal. We hope the issue would be solved soon,” Misra said.
According to traders, the port management should be proactive on the issue and such poser would only solve the problem. When the same congestion problem emerged in 2006, the then chairman of port trust K Suresh literally warned the vessel operators to withdraw CTR surcharge or face the consequences by losing priority berthing at Chennai Port.
“His proactive role bore good results and all the vessel operators, fearing berthing problems at the Chennai port, immediately withdrew their CTR surcharge making all traders happy. That kind of proactive action is needed from Atulya Misra to solve the issue,” Mukundan, a regular user of the port said.
All these CTR charges are being collected in the name of Chennai Port and the management is yet to gauge the magnitude of the problem and due to the delay in solving it, its name and reputation gets a beating in other countries, he added.
Despite getting berthing on time in the last two days, two container ships, MSC Levina and Tiger Shark have collected CTR from traders.