The paucity of licensed porters in the Air Cargo Terminal of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport managed by the State-owned Kerala State Industrial Enterprises (KSIE) has started affecting the receipt and timely delivery of cargo to the consignees and leading to tension in the cargo complex.

The number of individual licensed porters had not gone up commensurate with the increase in the volume of cargo handled, airport sources said. The volume of cargo handled had gone up from the monthly 900 tonnes to 1,500 tonnes recently. The number of cargo consignments cleared daily has also gone down from 45 to 30 owing to shortage of licensed porters.

The freighter services by Emirates have also compounded the problems. Customs authorities had taken up the inordinate delay in the delivery of cargo with the KSIE officials and had conveyed their displeasure. The operating airline is also worried over the delay in the deposit of cargo. The loaders of the airline are often forced to take up additional work for no extra remuneration. The entire porterage charge goes to the licensed porter deployed by the KSIE.

The sources said there was a concerted move on the part of the existing 28 licensed porters to resist the induction of new porters on the fear that the porterage charges would have to be divided among the new recruits also.

Lucrative job

Although the daily porterage charge per porter comes to around Rs.1,500, their income is reported to be over Rs.5,000 as they get tips from the consignees. Of the 28 licensed porters in the rolls now, 50 per cent are in the 50 plus age group.

As per rule, the licensed porter can induct their dependents as porters if they are permanently incapacitated and duly certified by a medical board. The sources said the dependents were “pushed into the job” after producing fake medical certificates before the licensed porters retired on attaining the age of 60. Locals were opposing this “back door recruitment” and were demanding that the eligible persons from the airport area be given priority.

The introduction of freighters had worsened the situation as the licensed porters are not interested in handing the import cargo that comes in it. “They are more interested in handling the import cargo that comes through the bonded trucking via Nedumbaserry. It is lucrative for them as they will get additional porterage charges from the airline,” the sources said.

KSIE personnel are facing a lot of problems on account of the shortage of porters. It is the KSIE which issues the six month porter licence for handling import cargo by collecting a monthly fee of Rs.50.

When contacted, a KSIE official said the issue had been brought to the notice of the management and proposals were on to increase the number of licensed porters in the cargo complex.