VPT agrees to waive penal charges for port users

A merchant ship sailing towards the Visakhapatnam port amid the lockdown.

A merchant ship sailing towards the Visakhapatnam port amid the lockdown.  

Stakeholders wants the authorities to declare ‘force majeure’

The Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) has agreed to waive off penal charges for underperformance by the cargo handling agents and other users during the lockdown.

VPT Deputy Chairman P. L. Haranadh told The Hindu on Tuesday that they would consider failure of contractual obligations by the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) operators on a case-to-case basis as per the concession agreement signed with them.

What isforce meajure’

Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, meanwhile, said that in view of the unusual crisis arising out of the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent nationwide lockdown, they were declaring ‘force majeure’, a notification exempting the port handling agents, stevedores and other stakeholders from payment of penalty for failure to complete their contractual commitments within a specified time. Based on a circular issued by the Ministry of Shipping on March 24 following declaration of the lockdown, several ports including those at Mudhra, Krishnapatnam, Gangavaram and Gopalpur have declared ‘force majeure’.

“We want the major port in Visakhapatnam to take a decision on ‘force majeure’ with retrospective effect, as was implemented in the aftermath of Cyclone Hudhud in October 2014,” said G. Sambasiva Rao, managing director of Sravan Shipping Services.

“There is no doubt that COVID-19 is a disaster of unprecedented proportions, and yet, the port community is doing whatever it can. We also expect the government to take suitable measures to help us,” Vizagapatam Chamber of Commerce and Industry honorary secretary G. Veeramohan said.

“The Union Government must stem the decline of the shipping industry by urgently taking proactive measures, one of which is declaration of ‘force majeure’ in government-owned ports like VPT,” he said.

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 7:55:11 PM |

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