The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has called for the withdrawal of congestion surcharge being levied on the exim trade by some shipping lines, even as Chennai Feeders operators (CFO) set conditions for a dialogue on the issue.

Once again, the representatives of chambers of commerce, trade bodies and CFO, in a unified voice, urged the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) to increase access and exit points on a war-footing for regulating container movement that resulted in congestion, which led to levying of surcharge.

Led by the representatives of CII Tamil Nadu State Council, its chairman, N.K. Ranganath met ChPT Deputy Chairman, P.C. Parida, and explained the hardship faced by the manufacturing industry due to limited infrastructure and delay in clearance of containers among other issues.

Talking to The Hindu, he said: “These issues have to be cleared within a reasonable time as further delay in evacuation of containers will mar the reputation of ChPT. The delayed delivery is viewed very seriously by the customers and they are reluctant to place orders again. This issue needs to be addressed on a high priority basis as the exporters are missing opportunities to service the global demand. The surcharge is an additional cost to the exporters. This calls for regulating the shipping lines.”

Traffic within and outside the ChPT should be regulated by outsourcing it to third party for better results, starting a new port or expanding the existing one, removing encroachments and widening the roads to smoothen the traffic and increasing the manpower, he said.

A spokesman for CFO, a sub committee of the Asia Feeder Discussion Group (AFDG), said ChPT should keep at least two gates open all 24 hours a day and increase the lanes at zero gate to three in each direction against two at present. There should not be any trade volume restrictions and vessels should be berthed on arrival. Normal port stay should be 36 hours.

ChPT Atulya Misra said that the functioning time of gate 2A had been extended by one more hour and additional Customs officials were being posted at gates 2A and 5.