India’s single biggest container terminal, Gateway Terminals India Private Limited (GTI) which is run by a unit of Danish shipping group A P Moller-Maersk Group A/S, at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) near Mumbai, has declared force majeure in the wake of the 21-day lockdown imposed by the government to check the spread of COVID-19.
Amit Bhardwaj, Chief Commercial Officer at GTI, said on March 27 through a notice to the trade, “Gateway Terminals India Private Limited hereby declares the Covid-19 pandemic as an event of Force Majeure in accordance with the Terms of Business (TOB) and that this declaration should be considered as a notice of Force Majeure as per the TOB. As such, we hereby record that our obligations to perform certain services as stated herein cannot be fulfilled as a result of the event of Force Majeure.”
“Delay/inability in fulfiling the terminal services and other obligations of Gateway Terminals India Private Limited as mentioned in the Agreement/TOB, including but not limited to allotment of berthing windows and receiving and delivering containers from and to container transporters at the terminal,” GTI said.
Gateway Terminals maintained, “It will not be responsible for any claims, damages, charges, etc. whatsoever arising out of and/or connected with this Force Majeure event including damage to the cargo.”
“In view of the pandemic and the prevailing situation in the country, the workforce (including contract labour) are timid to attend the operations as before, causing severe impact on operations of Gateway Terminals India Private Limited,” the terminal operator added.
At this stage it is impossible to predict the duration of the Force Majeure event as it depends on the development of the Covid-19 pandemic and related Government instructions and regulations, the operator further said.
With this, GTI joins other port operators such as Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) to declare force majeure at ports to deal with the health crisis.
A force majeure clause absolves firms from meeting their contractual commitments for reasons beyond their control.
GTI, is India’s single biggest container terminal by volumes loaded, clocking 2 million twenty-foot equivalents units (TEUs) a year for the last three years.
The terminal is 74 per cent owned by A P M Terminals Management B V, the container terminal operating unit of A P Moller-Maersk Group while the balance 26 per cent stake is held by India’s state-owned rail hauler of containers, Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR).