December 05, 2017

FMC Schedules Hearings on Fair Port Practices

The Coalition for Fair Port Practices filed a petition last December requesting that the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) establish new policies so that cargo owners are not charged for ports fees when circumstances beyond their control prevent them from timely pickup and return of carrier equipment. They are requesting the FMC to extend the free days when there is severe weather, port congestion, port delays, or other events that are out of their control.

The coalition’s petition lists events that included instances of port congestion and cargo diversions due to weather or labor issues. For instance, last year’s bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping prevented numerous cargo owners from retrieving their cargo and resulted in large expenses, in some cases exceeding $100,000. Cargo owners and trucking companies usually have enough time to pick up their containers from ports before they are charged demurrage. Detention and per diem fees are also charged when containers and chassis are not returned on time. The free days normally provide enough time for the pickups and returns.

The FMC will hold public meetings on January 16-17, 2018 to hear testimonies from the maritime industry regarding issues in the petition challenging port charges, including detention, demurrage, and per diem charges. Comments and requests for appearances need to be submitted to the FMC by Friday,
December 8th.

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