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Ministry to regularise freight forwarding

The Ministry of Ports and Aviation has decided to regularise freignt forwarding to provide a safer and more efficient service.

Accordingly any individual or establishment engaged in the business of Freight Forwarding, Non Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC), Container Terminals, Container Depots and Container Freight Stations will be required to obtain a licence from the Director of Merchant Shipping in order to conduct such business in compliance with the Freight Forwarders and Non Vessel Operating Common Carriers (Licensing) Regulations 2005 and Container Operators' Regulation 2005, (Government Gazette No. 1402/19 dated 22 July 2005).

The application for such licences must be made as specified in the said regulations on or before the 20th of September, 2005 to the Director of Merchant Shipping.

According to former Legal Advisor Ministry of Ports and Shipping, Asoka Somaratne this has been introduced since this area has not been addressed earlier. "Today any person with a business registration can operate a freight forwarding company which in some instances has led to smuggling and malpractices," he said. Some time ago 18 containers went missing in the Colombo Port and they are yet to be traced.

There were other instances where fright was shipped without insurance and some times freights forwarders close up shops and disappear when there are queries.

The Ministry had received several complaints but was not in a position to take legal action since the laws were fragile. "This is the reason why the Minister decided to regularise Freight Forwarding, NVOCC, Container Terminals, Container Depots and Container Freight Stations so that companies should be accountable," he said.

He said that they have not introduced high annual deposits or a lot of red tape. "This is because we want small times too to be regulerised," he said.

Further information in this regard could be obtained from the Merchant Shipping Division of the Ministry of Ports and Aviation.
(DN - 31/08/2005)

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