Import cargo is piling up at the air cargo complex of Thiruvananthapuram international airport here owing to the paucity of licensed porters.

Nearly 200 tonnes of import cargo, including eight trucks of transhipped cargo that had reached the cargo complex at Shanghumughom by road from the Nedumbassery airport in Kochi, were piled up at the complex last week. The holiday for Customs on account of Buddha Purnima on May 27 compounded the problem.

Nearly 70 tonnes of import cargo brought by the freighter service of Saudi Airlines last week is lying at the airport.

The State-owned Kerala State Industrial Enterprises (KSIE) Ltd. that manages the cargo complex had announced an embargo on operating airlines bringing cargo to Thiruvananthapuram to clear the piled-up import cargo.

Airport sources said the embargo is valid till Tuesday.

The shortage of licensed porters has started affecting the receipt and timely delivery of cargo to the consignees. The lack of space is also posing problems.

Airport sources said the number of licensed porters at the cargo complex had not kept pace with the increase in the volume of cargo handled. The volume of cargo handled has gone up from the monthly 900 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes.

The number of cargo consignments cleared in a day has gone down from 45 to 30 owing to the shortage of porters.

Freighter services

The freighter services by Emirates, Saudi Airlines and Expo Air have increased the problems. The amount of cargo handled in a day goes up from 45 tonnes to 100 tonnes when the freighter arrives from Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

Airport sources said the 28 licensed porters were resisting the induction of new porters fearing that the porterage charges will have to be divided among the new recruits too.

Of the 28 licensed porters on the rolls now, 50 per cent are above the age of 50. The attempts by the KSIE to recruit more licensed porters have not met with success.