Several importers shipping agencies and industrialists are peeved because of the discontinuation of the ‘Epic’ and ‘OEG’ shipping services.
The decision, taken by shipping lines to stop the service came unexpectedly to importers and manufacturers who were used to planning their imports and exports on set days and times.
It appears that although the Epic service was working regularly for some years ships were turned away from the Freeport recently because the port could no longer accommodate them at those times.
The news has raised some eyebrows in shipping circles as it reached companies at approximately the same time when it became known that Malta Freeport reached an agreement with IRISL shipping line, owned by the Iranian government.
Labour newspaper Il-Kullhadd of 23 May reported that the agents of IRISL were formerly S Mifsud and Sons, but IRSL chose to work with a company owned by relatives of a Nationalist minister.
When MaltaToday contacted the Freeport, Alex Montebello, the personal assistant to chairman Mark Portelli it was told that the line was discontinued because no contracts were signed with the shipping companies.
“It was not possible for the Freeport to accommodate the service at the times requested and in the meantime contracts were signed with other shipping companies.”
Importers had some of there consignments delayed because of the sudden stoppage, and will now have to make different shipping arrangements, that may not always be the most favourable.
The number of shipping companies and services using the Freeport services has been decreasing over the years, with a consequent loss of choice and competitive options to the local client base
The Epic service was provided by P&O Nedlloyd for which Thomas Smith Co acts as agents, CMA-CGM is represented by Carmelo Caruana and owned by the Hili brothers and CP Ships Oceania is represented by O F Gollcher & Sons.