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Vessels stranded as Haldia mooring crew strike work

Wednesday, 23 January 2019 | 00:00

Nearly half a dozen ships are stuck at the Haldia port since Monday morning with the mooring crew striking work following a show-cause notice issued by the port authorities.

Another 28 vessels are said to be waiting at the Sandheads, an anchorage 25 nautical miles off Haldia port.

Most of these vessels are carrying dry bulk cargo that include coal imported from Australia and manganese ore from South Africa. Three container vessels with coastal cargo are also stuck.

Revenue loss
The impasse means the port loses ₹6 crore daily while demurrage charges for the trade is likely to be ₹11-15 lakh daily.

Trade sources say a prolonged impasse could lead to a scenario of cargo being diverted to nearby ports like Paradip, Dhamra or Vizag.

“We are hopeful of resolving the impasse overnight,” a senior Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) official said, adding that if the impasse continued, KoPT could bring in workers from the Kolkata dock.

Absentee workers
According to the official, some 60 mooring crew members refused to join work this morning. The impasse arose after KoPT officials issuing notices to some workers for being absent from work after signing attendance.

Of the 20 workers supposed to be present for the Sunday night shift at Haldia docks, only eight were on duty. About a dozen workers, despite marking attendance, were absent.

Following an inquiry, notices were issued to the “absentee workers and the shift supervisor.” Workers are demanding that the notices be withdrawn.

With KoPT officials are refusing to withdraw the notices, mooring crew members, who incidentally are on the port’s payroll, refused to join work.

Rise in traffic
For the first nine months of this fiscal (April to December), the Haldia port has reported an over 12 per cent increase in traffic volumes to the tune of 33 million tonnes against the 29.2 million tonnes it reported in the year-ago period.

On the other hand, cargo handling during the April-December period at the Kolkata dock remained flat at approximately 13 million tonnes.
Source: The Hindu Business Line

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