Maersk's fog surcharge in Qingdao comes under criticism from shipper group
MAERSK Line is to launch a fog surcharge in China's Qingdao, which the executive director of Hong Kong Shippers' Council, Sunny Ho, has slammed as 'unreasonable' and 'unacceptable,' according to Containerisation International. Friday, 01.Jun.2012, 00:15 (GMT+3)
MAERSK Line is to launch a fog surcharge in China's Qingdao, which the executive director of Hong Kong Shippers' Council, Sunny Ho, has slammed as 'unreasonable' and 'unacceptable,' according to Containerisation International.
Maersk said in a statement it was launching a congestion surcharge in the Bohai Bay port of Qingdao during the so-called 'fog season' from June 1 to July 31 of US$100 per container for all destinations.
Mr Ho said that all the different charges coming shippers' way were 'totally unacceptable.'
The carrier explained: "Fog season in Qingdao lasts from May to July. During this period, normal port operations are impacted due to increase in waiting time as a result of fog-related port closures. Fuel costs also increases significantly in order to maintain our regular sailing schedule. In order to recover some of these additional operational costs, we are compelled to apply a Congestion Surcharge for fog season in Qingdao for all containers loading from Qingdao during the fog."
But Mr Ho said: "Shippers have had so many unexpected charges - and now we have this Maersk fog surcharge. I don't think it's reasonable and think it's unacceptable. How can this charge be appropriately applied? How can they know when it will be foggy or not? $100 is not a small amount. It seems to have been arbitrary and imposed one-sidedly from Maersk."
Commenting on the different charges being launched in general, he lamented: "We already have more than we expect and it's totally unacceptable, all these charges we are getting." And he didn't agree with the Intra Asia Discussion Agreement's recent rate raises across the Intra Asia trades, arguing: "Rates are not low, especially as costs are much lower in these trades as vessels are older and smaller; journeys are much shorter and as interest rates are low, the cost of doing business is low.
"Shippers are already not in good shape, as they are facing sluggish demand. The companies in Hong Kong that provide export credit insurance say that they have received many more inquiries from shippers about getting this insurance. The reason shippers want this is because they are encountering difficulties in payment as rates are high, so they want protection from insurance."