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BIFA wants compensation for Felixstowe TOS problems

Despite HPH UK’s that claim nGen is now stable, a freight forwarders’ association says the new TOS is still causing significant business disruption for its members.

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The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has taken exception to Hutchison Ports UK’s claim that its new nGen Terminal Operating system (TOS) is now running stably at the Port of Felixstowe and wants to discuss compensation for ongoing problems at the port.


As reported previously, Hutchison Ports has experienced ongoing problems with the transition to the new TOS that have resulting in some lines switching calls to other UK ports. Robert Keen, Director General of BIFA said nGen is still causing problems.


“Our members still face significant problems at the port with shipping lines cancelling calls; or operating a cut-and-run policy, where the ship leaves before all containers that are booked are loaded, or discharged.


“Those members are also experiencing knock-on effects at other UK ports where vessels are being diverted, causing additional cost and disruption”.


Hutchison Ports owns the Port of Felixstowe, and has resisted BIFA’s attempts to get compensation for its memebers. Keen said the port had earlier “made it clear that it does not consider BIFA members to be direct customers of the port, and would not be willing to have a discussion about possible compensation for the damage caused and the increased costs that have been incurred by those members”.


BIFA is not satisfied with this: “We have made it clear to the port authority [Hutchison Ports UK] that BIFA believes that many of its members are the port’s customer for the terminal processes that it undertakes after a vessel has been discharged for imports and prior to loading for export traffic.


“In our opinion, as the port authority produces a publicly available tariff detailing services being offered and the associated charges; and then either invoices the freight forwarder directly for these charges; or grants credit facilities, all the elements of a contract between the port authority and our members are thus in place.


“The port authority does not accept this line of argument and we remain very disappointed that it is not even prepared to discuss any kind of compensation for such a complete failure in customer service,” Keen concluded.

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