Doha Port blames importers for container back

William Boot
By William Boot

In December, I wrote about the amount of wastage caused by Doha Port's inability to unload perishables quickly. It looks like the season has now arrived where we'll be buying rotten fruit and vegetables, and stinking meat. Here's what Doha Port had to say in this morning's Peninsula:

Importers are to blame for the huge backlog of containers at the Doha Port since they make undue delay in getting the goods cleared, senior port and customs officials told reporters yesterday.

The importers tend to use the container terminal as sort of warehousing facility because the fines for delayed clearance of goods are quite low, the officials said.

The port authorities, therefore, plan to reduce the grace period given to importers for clearing their goods from 21 days to 10 and increase the fines imposed after the grace period to deterring levels.

“We have proposed that the existing law regulating the port be replaced with a new one. We have actually prepared a draft of the proposed law and forwarded it to higher ups for review and approval,” Captain Ahmed Al Maas, Deputy General Manager of Customs and Ports General Authority, said.

“In the draft, new penalty structures have been incorporated,” he said, obliquely hinting that the raised fines would deter importers from leaving their containers un-cleared longer than necessary.

The existing legislation, which was enforced in 1994, prescribes very low fines. For example, not getting a 20-foot container cleared after the grace period of 21 days invites a daily fine of only QR40. The penalty in respect of a 40-foot container is QR80, Al Maas said, addressing a news conference.

Also present on the occasion were Saif Al Suwaidi, operations manager at the port, Mohamed Al Madhadi, director of maritime activities, and Rashid Al Mohannadi, public relations director at the authority.

The officials pointed out that in a bid to resolve the issue of the backlog, active coordination was sought with the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), the representative body of the private sector, and even a joint committee was set up, but in vain.

The existing law prescribed a longer grace period and low fines for delays in clearing containers to encourage imports, but it was now backfiring, rued Al Maas.

Imports have grown massively over the past several years due to the economic boom, to the extent that expansion of the port to cope with the situation has not helped.

An additional container terminal has just been built and plans are afoot to have another one shortly in place in the Ras Abu Aboud area.

“We hope that these extra container terminals would help us manage port affairs smoothly until the new Doha Port is ready by 2014-15,” said Al Maas.

Source: The Peninsula

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By logicfrt• 10 years 8 months ago.
logicfrt

We want to send several 20'/40' Cntrs of Electrical Items to Doha. Can any Forwarding/Clearing Companies assist us?

By britexpat• 12 years 6 months ago.
britexpat

Its the Indians..

They are the ones that move the containers once they are offloaded from the ship...Definitely Indians..

By brin• 12 years 6 months ago.
Rating: 5/5
brin

There is a helluva lot more behind this than just importers taking too long to clear.

The port infrastructure cannot handle the amount coming into Qatar, the customs formalities do not often allow for an expedited clearance, etc.

As for most if not all going through Jebel Ali (as commented by a ready), this is not the case... many importers are, indeed, diverting to Jebel Ali because of exactly the reasons above. Plus, it increases their costs considerably now as they need to truck to Doha. the port can still not handle the amount coming in.

Look at south africa.... the country allows for pre-clearance before goods arrive - this expedites the process tremendously and exams (which are currently on virtually every container that comes in) are on a random flag system.

Even with the pre-clearace, you have 3 free days.... after that... it is approx $150.00 USD per container per day.

This implemented years ago and you can bet importers were moving their butts to get things cleared.

If anything in the short term (since no infrastructural improvements will happen fully for the next 10 years), they need to improve the customs formalities - what worked 5 years ago isn't working now with the volume - and then implement a financial impediment to containers being held.

Plus, they'll see a revenue boost from this from the containers hitting Doha port again.

Just my two cents.

Brin

By fubar• 12 years 6 months ago.
fubar

I still don't see the relevance of crowding in a port in another country when port officials are on the record as saying that there is a problem with a backlog in Doha.

You seem to be taking your own advice and blaming the UAE for the problem that wholesalers and retailers in Doha don't collect their freight soon enough in Doha.

By tallg• 12 years 6 months ago.
tallg

Transporting perishables by ship is a tried and tested method that works. If ports a failing to deal with them correctly when they arrive than that's a different matter, but you can't just discount the whole process by saying that "Perishables should not be dispatched by sea, in the first place."

By fubar• 12 years 6 months ago.
fubar

What's Jebel Ali Port got to do with anything?

By fubar• 12 years 6 months ago.
Rating: 2/5
fubar

So as the country's economy starts to slow, and shipping volumes decrease, the government will now tell businesses that they should be paying more for freight storage costs.

Yeah, that'll happen.

And Tess, I'm not sure how economical it would be to start sending livestock by air... It might also interest you to learn that most countries import and export all of their perishable goods by sea. When they are on the boat they are refrigerated and stored in appropriate conditions. That is why it is so cheap to buy Chinese apples and American potatoes.

I can't begin to imagine how much it would cost to send it via air freight. Even Mega Mart wouldn't be able to sell it.

By tallg• 12 years 6 months ago.
tallg

It's fine to dispatch them by sea if they're handled and dealt with in a correct and timely manner. Obviously Doha Port aren't doing that, but don't seem willing to accept any of the blame themselves.

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