Disputed Charge

Aug 12, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lankan shippers have rejected the report of a mediation committee that probed a dispute over cargo handling charges in Colombo port, saying the matter remains unresolved.

The council, an apex body representing the island’s exporters and importers, has waged a long campaign against the terminal handling charge imposed by lines for moving cargo through Colombo port.

Shippers’ Council officials said shipping lines have arbitrarily raised the THC and also introduced other charges apart from the freight rate, without consulting with the shippers according to existing procedures.

Shippers accuse the shipping lines of ‘price fixing’ by setting a standard THC and are demanding the charge be incorporated in the normal freight rates.

Shipping lines maintain they are only trying to recover costs and deny that they resort to price fixing. The dispute went into mediation on the advice of the supreme court which had been petitioned by the shippers, the island’s exporters and importers grouped under the Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council.

Shippers Council officials said they are demanding that shipping lines include what is known as the terminal handling charge (THC) in