At airport, MIAL bungling with cargo cost us Rs 200 cr: Traders

Presentation made before Civil Aviation officials by trade associations raises issues like poor storage, handling at airport

Questioning the work culture at the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) that they said was responsible for improper storage of cargo, parcels getting damaged or going missing and other problems, traders from various associations recently made a presentation of their woes before officials of the Civil Aviation and the Commerce and Industry ministries.

Cargo at the city airport lies out in the open under a cloudy sky, with plastic sheets struggling to cover some of the boxes. Traders say MIAL should have taken better care of costly cargo at least during the monsoon months

Traders said the damaged goods even included costly medical devices that came with 'handle with care' instructions, and claimed the accumulated losses resulting from poor infrastructure at the city airport and mishandling of cargo were close to Rs 200 crore in the past few months.

Careless attitude
In a detailed PowerPoint presentation made on September 26 in Delhi, traders said MRI and CT scan devices worth Rs 9 crore, cardiac stents worth Rs 2 crore, medicines worth Rs 2-3 crore, and automobile parts and food items worth crores were among the goods damaged in the recent past.

"The airport operator does not have enough sense of responsibility to even secure life-saving devices and medicines. We keep on knocking at its door with our complaints, but those people just refuse to listen," said an official spokesperson of a trade association that deals in international cargo.

A copy of the presentation is with MiD DAY, and it highlights the issues traders have with MIAL.

These issues include improper storage, parcels going missing after landing, zero accountability when it comes to damage to cargo, lack of proper security in the cargo area, parcels not found at defined locations and arrogant behavior of the airport cargo-handling workforce.

"Owing to the heavy monsoon and inability of MIAL to secure cargo, traders have incurred huge losses. There is a huge volume of cargo but limited space for it, and goods get damaged because of poor handling.

All this is resulting in loss of production as well as loss of revenue," said Mark S Fernandes, chairman, shipping and aviation committee of Indian Merchants' Chamber.

"For us, the accumulated loss stands around Rs 200 crore in the past three to four months, and despite this MIAL is not agreeing to compensate its clientele, which is us."

From bad to worse
Fernandes said things were only going from bad to worse, with MIAL showing no desire to address the issues and improve its service.

"We have brought the matter to the notice of the Aviation Minister and the Aviation Secretary, and they also agree with our issues," Fernandes said.

Ashish Pednekar, president, Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (MACCIA), said the situation was so bad that it amounted to misuse of public money.

"There is complete lack of infrastructure for cargo at the airport. The operator MIAL is virtually misusing public money. The operator never updates the ministry about the ground realities, but only indulges in making big claims all the time," said Pednekar.

Resolution of issues
The presentation before Civil Aviation Ministry officials was made on behalf of different merchant organisations like Indian Merchants' Chamber, MACCIA, Federation of Indian Export Organizations, Air Cargo Agents Association of India, Western India Shippers Association, CII and Bombay Customs House Agents Association.

Civil Aviation Secretary Naseem Zaidi said he was seized of the matter and steps were being taken to resolve the issues.

"The matter was brought to our notice and we have already sent our joint secretary twice to review and fix things," said Zaidi. "If required, we will send the team again."

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