As per the directives from the ministry of shipping, major ports shall not levy any penalties/charges/fees on any Port user for any delay caused due to COVID-19.
The Ministry of Shipping on 24th March, 2020, issued an advisory to all Major Trusts for invoking “Force Majeure” clause on Port activities and Port operations.
However as per the President, Federation of Associations of stevedores, Mr KK Dutt major ports have not invoked Force Majeure at their respective ports despite the directive from the ministry. This he says has resulted in service providers such as stevedores and transporters not being covered thereby leaving them open to penalties, fees, demmurages charges etc.
Albeit Mr Dutt informed that major port Haldia has recently invoked force majeure and he is hoping that other major ports follow too.
‘What we need at this time is for major ports to declare a general Force Majeure like the port did during the time of Hud-Hud cyclone in 2014. By giving this the ports don’t loose anything however port users i.e. exporters, importers along with operators such as stevedores, clearing agents get protected from non-performance or poor performance’ stated Mr Dutt.
By invoking force majeure major ports don’t lose anything however port users i.e. exporters, importers along with operators such as stevedores, clearing agents get protected from non-performance or poor performance during this lockdown period.
— Mr KK Dutt, President, Federation of Associations of stevedores.
Private Ports in AP have declared the ‘force majeure’ clause thereby clearing them from any contractual obligations to be fulfilled.
The force majeure clause absolves firms from meeting their contractual commitments for reasons beyond their control stated an industry insider.
Private ports like Gangavaram port, Krishnapatnam port and Kakinada have all invoked the force majeure clause at their respective ports.
‘We hereby notify that the “Force Majeure Event”, wherein port will not be responsible for any claims, damages, charges, etc. whatsoever arising out of and /or connected to the above Force Majeure event, either directly or indirectly, which without any limitation would include vessel demurrages, inter alia due to lower load/discharge rate, gate movement, rail load/discharge and /or allied services agreed under the agreement or achieved in the past or as per the industry norms’ stated a communication from one of the private operators to its customers.
This however doesn’t mean that operations halt but just that there is no liability on the party to fulfill it in a time bound manner stated the industry source.