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Chock-a-block port causes headache for importers   2008-05-27 - TuoiTre

Exasperated customers warn they will cancel contracts if they can’t get their goods sooner.

Ports in HCMC are struggling to cope with a huge influx of imported commodities, frustrating import businesses  



Ports in Ho Chi Minh City are struggling to cope with a huge influx of imported commodities, frustrating importers.

Saigon Newport Company, operator of both Tan Cang and Cat Lai ports in HCMC, said 21 percent more goods moved through its Cat Lai Port in District 2 in the first four months than in the same period last year.

The port company said imports had increased more than 43 percent over the same period.

According to the General Statistics Office, imports exceeded exports by US$11.1 billion over the first four months this year.

Imports climbed 71 percent to $29.36 billion.

Figures from the port operator show around 2,500 shipments were loaded and unloaded at Tan Cang and Cat Lai ports every week this year, a year-on-year increase of 1,100 movements.

Saigon Newport Company predicted the situation would get worse, with shipping companies reporting a sharp increase in the number of import orders being placed.

But leaders of the customs department at the city’s ports said they had warned of a possibility of logjam at the ports since last year.

Customs officials said the port infrastructure, including container-moving equipment, could not keep up with the spike in the number of shipments.

Companies’ woes

Many companies have been despairing over the delayed delivery of their imported goods, stuck at Victory Port, known as Vict, in HCMC’s District 7 for days.

“My shipment of machines arrived at the port early last week but I haven’t been able to get it,” said Tran Minh Trung, director of an import-export firm.

A representative of another importer said: “My firm’s shipment cleared customs last Wednesday but it was placed in the far corner of the port under six or seven containers.

So it will take ages to get it out.

“Customers, meanwhile, said they can’t wait any longer and warned they would cancel their contracts.”

A similar situation exists at Cat Lai Port.

Local exporters struggle to get their products into the already-full port.

Hien, the director of an import-export firm, said his shipments of frozen food spoiled while waiting outside the port.

Heavy machine importers said besides the jam-packed ports, they also have to cope with the ban on vehicles of more than 30 tons crossing many of HCMC’s bridges.

The longer shipments are trapped in the ports, the costlier it is for local companies.

The daily fee for a 20-foot and a 40-foot container at Victory Port is US$1.60 and $2.40 respectively, while an empty container is charged between $0.80 and $1.20 a day.


Saigon Newport Company said it had sought approval from the customs department to transfer containers awaiting customs clearance from Cat Lai Port to the less crowded Tan Cang Port.

There are nearly 5,000 20-foot containers that have languished at Cat Lai Port for more than 30 days, the firm said.

But only shipments destined for Tan Cang Port can be transferred from Cat Lai Port to Tan Cang Port.

Customs officials are considering the port operator’s request.

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