Dubai importers hunt for new berthing spots
Dubai, September 8, 2008
The importers of perishable goods in Dubai are searching for alternative ports to berth their ships owing to the congestion at the busy Jebel Ali port.
The region's top shipping hub became busier this year when operator DP World moved the cargo operations of its smaller Port Rashid to Jebel Ali, said a Gulf News report.
With the scenario getting worse in Jebel Ali port, where it can take days for ships to find a place to berth, many of the importers are looking at routing their imports through Abu Dhabi or Oman.
The Dubai government is redeveloping the Port Rashid area for urban real estate and maritime activities such as cruise tourism.
'Since Port Rashid's shutdown, we have been facing delays in getting our cargo. Vessels have to wait five or six days before they can berth,' said Chaudhry Faisal Altaf, a partner in Dubai-based Altaf and Khamas Trading Company.
The company is an importer of fruit, vegetables and other foodstuffs and Altaf said he has to bear additional transport and logistics costs due to the port delays.
Demand for foodstuffs has increased during Ramadan, but importers say they do not get their goods when they need them.
'After berthing it can take another two to three days to receive cargo,' Altaf pointed out.
'This increases the cost of goods, but we have been told by Dubai Municipality not to increase prices during Ramadan. It is a miserable situation for us,' he lamented.
'When Port Rashid was open, ships used to get immediate berths. We could receive our goods within six hours,' he said.
A representative of Jalil Traders, another importer of foodstuffs, said a ship carrying their container of eggs from Holland last month could not berth at Jebel Ali for 10 days.
Later that ship left for India, its next destination, and delivered the eggs at Jebel Ali only on its return visit.
Importers are also paying more in shipping and logistics costs. Shipping lines have imposed a $100 congestion surcharge for each 20-foot container and $200 for 40-foot containers coming to Jebel Ali, said K. Hafeezuddin, managing director of Deepsea Logistics and Distribution.
'Some are thinking of using other ports and a few have gone to Ras Al Khaimah. But it is not easy because of limited connections,' said Hafeezuddin.
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