Freight Fracas

July 10, 2008 (LBO) – The Sri Lanka Shippers’ Council (SLSC) says their dispute with foreign shipping lines over a handling charge at Colombo port remains unresolved despite repeated protests and court action.

The dispute between Sri Lankan exporters and foreign shipping lines has moved into mediation mode, on a supreme court directive, and a final report is expected soon, SLSC officials said.

Shipping lines maintain they are only trying to recover costs and deny that they resort to price fixing.

They say competition among shipping lines and their calls at Colombo for transhipment cargo has significantly reduced the costs incurred by Sri Lankan shippers and given them greater shipping opportunities.

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

“Despite our continuous lobbying against the application of THC, the authorities continue to turn a blind eye,” the SLSC said in its annual report presented at the annual general meeting Wednesday.

“As a result we have seen shipping lines arbitrarily introducing various other charges ap