Inland container shipping rates are expected to increase by as much as 20 per cent before the end of the year.
Curtis Seepersad, president of the Association of T&T Hauliers (ATTH) told Guardian Media that no date has yet been finalised for the increase. Seepersad said operational costs and the price of fuel has left ATTH 90-plus members with no alternative. He said “ Subsequent to our Special Members’ Meeting, a decision was taken to implement a rate increase for ground transportation container haulage. This revision of rates is triggered by consistent increases in diesel prices over the past six (6) years from a 2016 rate of $1.50 per litre to $4.41 per litre in 2022. An increase of 194 percent. In the past the Association has lobbied amongst our members to maintain our 2014 rates against the backdrop of the unprecedented world pandemic, global supply chain issues, increases in fuel prices, container shortages, port inefficiencies, floods, and deteriorating road networks. Regrettably, with the latest, substantial diesel price increase, and our major consumables such as tires, parts oils, and lubricants we are no longer able to maintain these rates.
He added, “As a Hauliers’ Association, we recognise our significant role as part of the supply chain network and will remain committed to enhancing the capabilities and competencies of our members serving various communities.” Seepersad said the government can assist with keeping costs down by offering tax incentives to ATTH members such as tax breaks on vehicles, tires and parts. He said consumables are rising daily and the cost alone of putting fuel in one truck can be as much as $4000 a month. The rising cost of parts and tires increased in the two years when shipping rates went from around $70,000 in 2020 to $140,000 for goods from China during the period when there was a shortage of containers.
One haulage operator who wished not to be identified said the last time the association complained about the demerit system they were victimised by the Licensing Authority.
“They set up strategic roadblocks to prevent us from entering the ports along Wrightson Road and Rivulet Road. When we complain the authorities set out on a path of victimisation. I am wondering what their next move is.”
Richie Sookhai, President of the Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said this will cause an overall increase in prices “The ATTH intent to increase is understandable, not only because of fuel but because of maintenance and global increases. Seeing that they haven’t increased since 2014 I can understand the need but seeing the state of the economy they should rethink the rates of the increase. We can see that the government was not making cuts anywhere when it comes to keeping prices down. We have suggested capping prices in the past and the government is not going to reduce taxes on any commodity. Once this increase in haulage rates takes place prices will go up.”
Mukesh Ramsingh, president of the Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Commerce, said the increase of haulage rate would send up the costs of all goods.
He said, “The ATTH should not go as high as 20 per cent because of the state of the economy. I am calling on the ATTH to meet with all business chambers and the minister before any rate increase takes place.”