SSA files complaint against toll hikes


SINGAPORE, dpa

The Singapore Shipping Association (SSA), representing 300 companies, has filed a formal complaint against proposed toll hikes for the Panama Canal, SSA said on Thursday.

The submission to the Panama Canal Authority said the rate increases set to start in May were unreasonable with the hike as much as 47 percent for container ships over the next three years.

Other types of ships would pay between 26 percent and 34 percent more than currently.

The hikes announced last month are aimed at financing a US$5.25 billion plan to widen the 92-year-old canal bridging the Atlantic and Pacific to accommodate bigger ships.

Services plying China and the East Coast of the United States and those linking Europe to the U.S. West Coast will be most affected, according to shipping lines.

The SSA said the sharp increase places the burden of financing the expansion of the famed waterway unfairly on current rather than future users.

PSA International, which runs the world’s busiest container port in Singapore, announced this week that it will build a US$100 million container center at the Pacific end of the canal.

The facility will be able to handle 450,000 containers in 2009, when operations start.