Union urges State to intervene as shipping lines extort local importers

Male' Commercial Harbor. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldives Trade Union (MTU) has appealed for State intervention to stop freight forwarding agents and shipping lines from extorting local importers by imposing extra unregulated charges.

MTU, in a statement this Wednesday, voiced concern over the continued practice by freight forwarding agents and shipping lines of extorting money from local importers by presenting it as charges owed to Maldives Ports Limited (MPL).

The union noted that all charges by shipping lines are standardized internationally, and that shipping lines and freight forwarding agents may not charge for “local services” unless the service is provided by the parties.

MTU said that it has met with officials at the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and Ministry of Economic Development on multiple occasions to voice concern over the issue.

The union said that its findings proved the extra charges are unregulated and unjustified.

It also alleged that the entire Maldivian shipping sector was being controlled by Sri Lankan companies which were charging USD 550-700 as delivery order and an extra USD 500 for which no services are rendered.

MTU stressed that protection of the rights of local importers and traders was vital for a heathy economy, and appealed to the State to intervene in stopping the extraction of unregulated charges and help the traders retrieve the money extorted from them.

Managing Director of MPL, Shahid Ali spoke to ‘Sun’ this Wednesday and said that the company has met with freight forwarding agents and shipping lines over the extra charges, and had attempted to reduce the charges imposed by the parties.

“We do not have the authority to regulate DO [delivery order] charges. Now we can only explain the facts. I can only say a solution to this needs a mobilized and strong effort by multiple State institutions,” said Shahid.

MPL, in February, issued a statement expressing concern over imposition of extra charges and published its rates on its website.