The movement of ships at Indian ports is almost halted because of the lockdown and quarantine measures taken by the government to control coronavirus pandemic. "There are scary views of ships waiting at the mid-sea for days at the Mumbai, Gujarat and the west coasts because of the manpower shortage and logistics problems at the ports," said a senior executive of a shipping line.
The government has not paid heed to the problems at the ports. The vessels, which sail a short distance of less than 14 days, have to complete the remaining days mid-sea to prove that their crews don't have the virus epidemic. Besides, when the vessels get the berth, offloading and uploading become a severe issue as less than 20 per cent workers are present at the ports and there are no trucks to carry the goods to different parts.
The inter-state traffic has become nearly impossible even for the trucks that carry essential goods.
Most of the ports have declared force majeure. It means ports will not be responsible for any claims against damages and charges because of the unprecedented situation. Force majeure clause absolves firms of meeting their contractual commitments for reasons beyond their control.
Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ), India's biggest private port operating firm, has declared force majeure at its facilities in Mundra, Tuna and Dhamra in the wake of lockdown imposed by the government.
Berthing operations and truck movement were disrupted across the ports in the country. Shipping lines continue to cancel sailing. The containers are stuck in transshipment across major ports because of the global trade restrictions. "Large number of containers have been stuck in transshipment and the rise of 'Blank Sailings' (cancellations) by shipping lines has lead to a shortage of empty containers," says an industry expert.
Ports and shipping companies are likely to post huge losses because of the lockdown as it leads to delay in delivery of necessary goods across the globe.
The world's biggest container line Maersk announced that the global shipping industry would face a hard time this year due to disruption in trade. Maersk's chief executive Soren Skou said that the scarcity of workers is creating a huge pressure on transportation.A lot of ships are lying idle on Asian ports due to the cancellation of shipments from China.