KATHMANDU, Sept 6: In an effort to bring down transit cost between Kolkata Port and Nepali border, the Consulate General of Nepal (CGN) in Kolkata has requested shipping companies to step up movement of consignments and also increase the grace period -- a duration within which importers need not to pay dentition charges.
Presently, the shipping companies have set grace period at 14 days for the round trip between Kolkata-Nepali border-Kolkata. But shipping companies themselves are taking at least 16 days to complete the shipment process.
"This impractical timeline over the years has forced Nepali importers to pay huge detention charges for delaying return of the containers. Hence, we have requested the shipping companies to speed up the shipment process and increased the grace period for detention," Chandra Kumar Ghimire, Nepalese Consul General to Kolkata, told Republica.
Around one dozen companies are involved in shipment of containers from Kolkata port to Nepal. A majority of them have been even compelling the reputed Nepali importers to sign contracts for the payment of detention charge if the containers are used for more than five days on a round trip of Kolkata-Kathmandu shipment.
"Such practice has been going on despite the fact that the agreed grace period is 14 days," said Ghimire, referring to the complaints he has received from Nepali importers.
Nepali freight forwarders, however, are not optimistic of the implementation of Nepali mission´s requests. "As the shipping firms operating in Kolkata are affiliated to the international companies, they have no authority to decide on the grace period on their own," said Rajan Sharma, president of Nepal Freight Forwarders´ Association (NEFFA), told Republica.
Moreover, referring to a wide disparity in detention charges levied by the shipping companies at present, the Nepali mission in Kolkata has also urged them to make such charge uniform.
"Shipping companies are levying detention charge in a range of US$ 5 to $25 a day. This disparity is not reasonable. Hence, we have asked the companies to set a pragmatic and uniform detention charge," Ghimire told Republica over phone from Kolkata.
The Nepali mission has also asked the Indian government´s undertaking Container Corporation of India (Concor) -- the authorized rail cargo operator on Kolkata-Nepal route -- to reduce the duration of shipment to 10 days. It has also requested the Indian government to build inland container depot (ICD) in Panitanki -- the Indian side of the eastern border.
The Nepali mission made the request mainly as Nepali traders cite the lack of such infrastructure as one of the major problems in exports via Kakarvitta customs. Nepal has ICD in Kakarvitta.
Ghimire also stressed the need to encourage rail cargo shipments, gradually replacing truck containers as they are costlier compared to rail. Presently, around 60 percent of total consignments to and from Nepal are handled by trucks. Only abut 40 percent of the consignments are handled by trains.