June 16: The shipping cost of importing goods to Nepal from overseas has increased as the transportation chain has been affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Shipping companies have increased fares by three to five times due to the shortage of containers in addition to heavy traffic jams at the port. Importer Ashish Lath, who is also the secretary of Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that most of the shipping companies have increased the fares sharply depending on the destination of the goods.
He informed that they have to pay USD 3,800 per container to import goods from Chinese port to the dry port of Birgunj. “Before the pandemic, the fare was up to $2,000. Even a month ago, the goods had arrived at $2,900,” he told New Business Age.
The shipping companies have increased fares following last year's lockdown. However, the train fare from Indian ports to Nepal remains the same.
The train fare from the Indian port to Birgunj is around $1,000 per container. According to the importers, the shipping cost of containers imported from China has increased three times.
Businessman Om Prakash More says that the transportation fare for goods imported from Europe and America is increasing every week.
Importers say that the fare for containers imported from those countries has increased five times now.
Naresh Agrawal, vice-president of the Nepal Freight Forwarders Association, said that the shipping companies are charging congestion fare due to the congestion of containers at the sea port.
According to Sushant Chachan, joint secretary of the Birgunj Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the shipping companies charge them up to US$ 200 to 300 per container for importing goods from Southeast Asian countries.
Importer Chachan informed that the shipment cost from Myanmar to Birgunj has doubled now.
He says that the fare from South America to Kolkata port has increased to $400 per container. Ashok Kumar Temani, coordinator of Road Transport and Transit Committee of FNCCI Province 2, says that the shipping companies are increasing fares in an arbitrary manner.
“Containers are hard to find during the pandemic and lockdown. Some shipping lines have created artificial shortages,” says Temani.
Just a month ago, the Nepali Consulate in Kolkata, India had publicly urged the importers not to do business with the two shipping companies that are harassing the importers. The Consulate had to issue a notice not to transport containers through River Edge Shipping Pvt. Ltd and Regal Container Line.
The Consulate said that the contact person of the company had repeatedly demanded additional charges from the importers and increased the fine.