Saudi traders say port delays costing $80m

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More than 500 Saudi clothes and textiles traders say they have incurred losses of up to $80m after long delays clearing containers at Jeddah Islamic Port, it was reported.

The traders claimed bureaucracy and the absence of a clear mechanism to inspect goods and clear them quickly were the reasons behind the delays, which had surged from three days to three months, the Al Madinah daily reported.

They said the goods had to be sold during season, but the delays meant they were forced to sell them at low prices.

Muhammad Al Shehri, chairman of the clothes and textiles committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told the newspaper the crisis developed after big cargo companies refused to ship traders’ goods to Jeddah Islamic Port because their ships had to wait for long periods at the port.

Al Shehri said the committee had taken the traders’ complaints to relevant authorities and demanded customs provide a clear mechanism for inspecting goods and handing them over efficiently.

The traders said the specified maximum turnaround time in clearing goods at the port was one month, but some had to wait three months. They said goods used to be handed over within three days.

The Saudi Gazette said the traders also accused port employees of being unprofessional, claiming they often lost product data or transported goods in garbage bags instead of placing them in suitable boxes.

Al Shehri was quoted as saying: “The committee has referred traders’ demands to the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organisation (SASO) to implement clothes and fabrics standards similar to other countries of the world.”

“They also demanded that the specifications follow international standards that are renewed every three years and not the way they are currently imposed by SASO,” he added.

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