Some of the consignments coming from third countries have been halted at certain entry points due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world.
Import and exportagents in the country expressed their concern that the consignments are being detained and causing demurrage at the airport and ship port.
Managing director of Tamu Worldwide Shipping private limited, Kamal Raj Gurung, said that due to the virus outbreak, certain consignments has been delayed as airlines are being shut down in parts of the world and entry points have been closed due to the outbreak leading to demurrage and detention.
Tamu worldwide Shipping Pvt Ltd is a freight forwarding, customs clearance, transportation and Courier Company having international links all over the world. It is an international dealing company. Bhutan is dependent on it for 80% of its import.
He said lots of consignments have been halted at certain entry points causing loss of Nu 1mn. The consignments are from Japan and Kolkatta.
“We depend on international imports and most of the countries are getting locked down. When the consignments cause demurrage and detention, it costs extra charges and prices of the products soar,” he said, adding that when there is limited number of flight movements the freight charges increases too.
He said that due to covid-19 the Tamu’sactivities have decreased drastically. “Earlier we were handling 10 to 12 clients but now we just have two to three clients.”
“When we bring consignments from the third countries, they come by nearby ship port like Kolkata. If the consignmentcomes via air, it takes two days to clear the consignment and if India gets locked down what could be the temporary measures to avoid detention and demurrage charges?” he asked.
He said that consignments come from different parts of the world. “For instance, if we have to export to Italy it is very difficult.”
They also feel that in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the consignmentsneed to be quarantined. Citing an example, he said in 2013, there was a case in 2010 whenAfrican giant snail was transshipped to Gyalpoizhing.
He said that their main aim is to collaborate with the government and get information on what has to be done regarding the transshipment of consignment. “Of course we must take precautionary measures but how?”
According to the World Health Organization, the life span of the virus is 9-12 hourswhile a consignment travels for more than 10 hours. “Do we need to quarantine our consignments?” he asked.
As an import and export agent he said that they suggest the government should quarantinethe consignments.
“Our agents can use precautionary measures before sending the consignments, or fumigate so as to prevent alien virus entering into our country,” he said.
He also said the government should offer subsidies to importers and exporters as they can help the government to cut down on freight costs which is the hidden costs within the certain period.
For example, if the actual cost of the consignment is Nu 12,280, there are lots of hidden charges added. The hidden charges will be added Nu 77,110 which would be around 600% more than the actual price in which the shipping make profit.
During the COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday, the minister for foreign affairs Dr. TandiDorji said that so far the government has not received any issue on the halt of consignments. “If there is a problem, the agents can directly contact the authorities concerned who will address the issue,” Lyonpo said.
He said most of the consignments are not quarantined so far. However, Lyonpo said that they will see the place and date of origin of the consignments.
Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu