HIT says it faces extra costs, denies gouging in HK to free

Time: 2016-09-19 14:22
HONGKONG International Terminals (HIT) appeared to defend itself in a statement after the terminal operator was accused of gouging shippers by not releasing their Hanjin boxes unless they paid a US$1,280 per container fee.
In response, HIT said it "regrets erroneous messages" from some, before stressing the cost of paying a dedicated team of 70 staff needed to retrieve the 1,500 stranded boxes.
But HIT's parent company, Hutchison Port Holdings (HPH), was told to stop levying such charges by a Dutch court in Rotterdam recently but it did allow its European Container Terminal to exact a EUR25 (US$28) per box surcharge.
Earlier, the Hong Kong Shipper Council (HKSC) and the Hongkong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics Limited (HAFFA) we expressed "outrage" about the "extortionate" charges being levied that are taking advantage of the Hanjin Shipping collapse.
Terminal operators have been exacting high charges to release Hanjin containers to consignees, said the HKSC, which said it is considering legal action.
"This arrangement is not acceptable cargoes belong to shippers, the beneficial cargo owners are not shipping lines," said HKSC in a press release.
"Therefore, terminal operators cannot have a lien over cargoes, they have no right to withhold containers and ask shippers to pay what are owed to them by the shipping lines," it said.
Said the HIT statement: "HIT regrets that individual parties in the logistics industry have repeatedly released erroneous messages and played down Hong Kong's role as an international shipping centre."
HIT did not specify what it meant by the "erroneous messages", but it argued that its response had been rapid and comprehensive, immediately putting in place special measures to help shippers retrieve cargo.
"HIT has so far helped affected parties to retrieve more than 1,500 Hanjin containers, with 400 inbound and outbound containers awaiting handling."
HIT said that under emergency procedures that are due to end on September 30, customers face handling charges of HK$6,000 - HK$13,000 (US$773 - US$1,675) per dry container, storage charges per day of HK$470 - HK$1,050, and deposits for the return of empty containers of HK$6,000-13,000 for dry containers and HK$100,000 for reefer containers. Handling charges for reefers are HK$ 9,000-19,500 per unit.
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