Market Update

Logistics companies resume operations as govt acts to clear cargo logjam

Logistics companies

Mumbai: Logistics companies have started resuming operations and opening up warehouses after the government swiftly moved in the last two days to clear the cargo logjam in the country to regulate supply of essentials.

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) late last night issued directions to state governments to protect all facilities in the supply chain of essentials and medical equipment: farmers, manufacturers, suppliers, distributers, transporters and retail outlets.

This unfroze the acute logjam that had formed over the last few days leading to the closure of warehouses and delivery centres. Several logistics companies had to suspend operations temporarily, ET reported on Thursday.

“In the last two days, only five of our warehouses were open. Now we have reopened 15 of them,” said Mayur Toshniwal, managing director of Future Supply Chain Solutions that stocks and ferries goods to its parent Future Group’s chain of retail outlets including Big Bazaar.

Toshniwal also said operations had improved, although there were still some problems in towns such as Siliguri in West Bengal.

Executives at Future Supply Chain, DHL Express, Ecom Express, Safexpress and Spoton Logistics said the operations are beginning to unfreeze, though it will take at least a week for them to smoothen out

Other problems, primarily shortage of drivers among truckers, , persist. Besides, even suppliers of essentials have to queue up to get curfew passes to ferry goods from one district to the other. For others, e-way bills for clocking GST have expired for one leg of the journey and have to be renewed for them to embark on the second leg.

“Yes, there has been some improvement. We are clearing up pending shipments, though we can’t delivery unless shipments are essential goods and equipment like testing kits for Covid-19,” said RS Subramanian, senior vice president and managing director, DHL Express.

Abhik Mittra, managing director of Spoton Logistics said it is starting the process of reopening hubs.

“The vehicles which were stuck at state borders have started moving. We will first have to deliver the essential commodities in our network. It will take a week to stabilise as many drivers are not available on the ground,” he added.

Availability of drivers continues to be an issue. The other problem, cited by SR Sharda, executive director of Safexpress, was that many had left the warehouses and gone home and now would have to get curfew passes made to come back to work.

Toshniwal and others said that a lot of the transporters were carrying a mix of essentials and non-essential goods in trucks and it would be extremely cumbersome for them to unload and ferry essentials only leaving the other stuff lying in warehouses.

“Also we have to broaden the ambit of essentials. Even things like soaps are now essentials. And there would be no demand anyway for luxury items or even clothes,” said Toshniwal.

Others such as K Satyanarayana, founder of Ecom Express, said transporters were queueing to collect their e-passes during the curfew.

Vijay Kumar, chief operating officer of lobby group Express Industry Council of India, said for many, e-way bills had expired on one leg of the transport—from factories to warehouse—and would have to be renewed before they got a fresh one for the second leg—warehouse to shops.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday declared a country-wide 21 day lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. While the centre exempted carriage of essential goods from the resultant transport ban, police personnel across the country stopped vehicles irrespective of the kind of goods they were carrying. Many vehicles carrying foodstuff, medicines and medical equipment were held up.


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