Saturday, December 30, 2017

It’s no smooth take-off for international cargo facility

Madurai: The international cargo operations that commenced at the Madurai international airport recently may have brought joy to exporters in southern Tamil Nadu. But the excitement seems to be fading fast thanks to multiple issues. Exporters and traders say the terminal is bogged down by unfriendly environment, unprofessional outsourced workers and absence of permanent plant quarantine officer.
The much-awaited facility was thrown open on December 15, a couple of weeks after the terminal building was inaugurated. It had taken a long time and sustained efforts from traders, exporters, aviation enthusiasts and of course officials of Airports Authority of India for the cargo facility to materialise after the notification for the facility came way back in 2014.
The first few days after the opening had witnessed a spirited export of consignments largely consisting of flowers, seafood and vegetables. But due to the hiccups, traders and exporters have gone back to other airports like Trichy, where they have been doing the business for long. As a result only a meagre quantity of cargo was lifted from the terminal in the past 10 days.
Narrating a bitter experience, president of Tamil Nadu Chamber of Commerce and Industries, N Jegatheesan, said a jasmine flower consignment which he sent recently to Dubai was not cleared by the officials there. The reason they cited was the scanned certificate issues by the plant quarantine officials in the Madurai airport. "In the absence of permanent plant quarantine officer, the certificate is issued by officials in Chennai based on the recommendation of the assistant plant quarantine officer here. While the officials from other countries require a document with seal and signature, what is issued here is a scanned copy of the certificate issued in Chennai," he said.
Moreover, the officials wanted the consignment to be in three to four hours before the flight departure, which was not possible in the case of flowers. He had shifted from Madurai airport back to Trichy, where there were no such hassles, he said.
30/12/17 Times of India