Posted on September 05, 2015

Importers of foodstuff fear the prices of some essential items could go up if prompt action is not taken to reduce the time required to clear goods at Doha Port, said Qatar Tribune. They point out that as a result of the prevailing “time-consuming” process, trailers, which used to return from the port to warehouses in the Industrial Area with loaded containers at least twice a day earlier, are now sometimes held up for more than 24 hours. The situation has become particularly critical over the past month, say importers.

While the importers are not against the strict procedures adopted for clearance of goods at the port, they feel the authorities should reduce the time taken for offloading and reloading containers, Gulf Times has learnt. Some of them said owing to the lengthy clearance process, they are forced to pay huge sums as demurrage “for no fault of their own”. “As a result, food importers are forced to charge higher prices for their supplies to retailers to cover the demurrage costs,” said a representative of a wholesale firm importing foodstuff.

Sources in the retail foodstuff sector said a 20kg bag of a particular kind of rice from India, which cost QR44-46 earlier, is now being sold to retailers for QR55-56. Retailers may add a minimum of 10-15% to this amount before the product reaches the consumer. Similarly, the prices of other consumables, especially grams and pulses, have also increased considerably in recent weeks, it is learnt. Representatives of retailers are now seeking the intervention of Qatar Chamber to sort out the matter, which they feel can lead to a sharper price rise in coming days if not addressed immediately.

A trailer operator said his company’s vehicles, which used to make up to 35 trips between the port and Industrial Area, are now unable to do even one-third of that. As a result, the cost of hiring trailers has gone up in recent months.

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