Over 1,000 containers have been stuck at India’s Mundra port as authorities crack down on the illegal self-sealing of goods amid a persistent shortage of equipment, sources said.
“This started nearly 7-10 days back when some discrepancies were found with a sandalwood cargo,” a custom broker based in Mundra said. “The authorities have now disallowed the pre-stuffed containers and mandated the inspection of cargo at the port.”
In 2017, the Indian government allowed exporters to seal their goods at the approved premises using an electronic seal after they procure self-sealing permissions from the customs department. However, those who do not have self-sealing permission are required to get their goods sealed under the supervision of customs department officials.
This rule wasn’t being strictly adhered to at Mundra port, and exporters without the self-sealing permission used to bring sealed goods to the port instead of a loose cargo, it is learnt. In a bid to curb this, officials are carrying out stricter checks, sometimes even asking those to destuff who have the required permission, leading to congestion, the Mundra-based custom broker said.
“The number of containers stuck is in the thousands as we have been facing the shortage of vessels and containers for the last many months,” according to a freight forwarder based in Mundra. “I have been waiting for a shipment from Mundra port for the last two weeks,” an importer based in Vietnam who has been waiting for a shipment from India, said. “The exporter tells me he cannot ship it yet because now he will submit permission for factory sealing and wait for it.” The Federation of Indian Export Organizations, FIEO, is trying to resolve the issue by holding talks with the customs officials. “We have asked the commissioner to scan through the container instead of destuffing the container, so we expect the problem to be resolved quite soon,” FIEO director general Ajay Sahai said. The export body is also in touch with the commerce ministry regarding the problems faced by exporters due to the equipment shortage, FIEO President Sharad Kumar Saraf said.
“The acuteness of shortage has reduced to a week’s time from 20 days earlier … The shortage exists even now because of lesser imports but the commerce ministry is aware of the problem. We have suggested that our shipyards should start producing containers. They can quickly produce containers and even start exporting,” Saraf said.