Dispute over unpaid port fees in Bahrain resolved
Manama, August 26, 2014
A dispute over unpaid fees between a port operator and eight companies has been resolved in Bahrain.
It started when APM Terminals (APMT), the operator of Khalifa bin Salman Port (KBSP), allegedly refused to release cargo containers belonging to the firms after it billed them for outstanding storage charges, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
The businesses, known as Non-Vessel Owning Companies (NVOC), are allowed to store their empty containers at the port for 10 days before a tax is imposed, however, they claimed they had an agreement with officials to hold the boxes depending on availability of space without enforcing additional charges.
They earlier told the GDN that they stopped receiving invoices for the levy last year, but the tabs, ranging between BD5,000 ($13,169) and BD80,000, resumed last week with a warning to pay the bills or their containers would be seized.
They attributed the issue to a technical glitch at APMT and negotiated to pay the charges in instalments, which was allegedly rejected by the operator.
However, the Transportation Ministry yesterday aid the operator has taken responsibility for the error and has agreed to be flexible in accepting the payments.
"There was in fact a technical error with APMT's billing system, which was rectified," a ministry spokeswoman told the GDN.
"The port operator has acknowledged the error and has shown flexibility in finding a solution with the companies affected.
"The commercial obligations of the clients remain valid and payments that are due to the operator should be paid in line with contractual agreements.
"A payment schedule has been agreed with most of the companies, after numerous meetings were held (in the presence of) the Transportation Ministry's ports and maritime affairs." She added that the ministry was "confident" the issue will be resolved with the remaining companies. - TradeArabia News Service