10 August, 2009
A day in the life of Gard’s
By James Mackintosh & Company Mumbai.
Following in the series of articles featuring the work of Gard’s P&I correspondents around the world, James Mackintosh & Company provide Gard News with an account of their activities in Mumbai.
Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, is a cluster of islands which evolved into the present metropolis over several centuries Way back in 1534 the Portuguese, who already possessed many important trading centers on the western coast of India, took the islands by armed force. In 1661 the Portuguese handed over the largest of these islands to the English, as part of the dowry when the Portuguese Infanta Cattherine of Braganza married Charles II of England: four years later Charles received the remaining islands and the port, and the town took on the anglicized name of Bombay, from the Portuguese “Bom Baia” (meaning “Good Bay”). In 1668 the islands were acquired by the English East India Company for ten pounds of gold per year. The English turned Bombay into an important port.
Although the recorded history of James Mackintosh does not go back to 1668, it does go back over 15 decades. Established in 1854 by an Englishman, James Mackintosh is today a Parsi owned company. The community and company are thus closely woven into the fabric of Mumbai.
P&I correspondence has been one of the mainstays of the James Mackintosh business in the past continues to be so in the present.
As the commercial capital of India, Mumbai (so re-named by the city fathers in 1998) is a city that never sleeps, and the Mumbai P&I correspondent tends to do the same. Many are the phone calls received from anxious owners and concerned claims handlers from the Far East quite early in the day, as well as calls and emails from claims handlers in Europe and of late even from the United States.
Homi Commissariat, the Chairman of the James Mackintosh Group, Inherited the mantle from his father FH Commissariat several decades ago; Farokh Commissariat is the Company’s MD. The James mackintosh core P&I team – Sunil Dsouza. Joe Varghese, George Jacob, Farokh commissariat and Homi Commissariat – with a collective claims handling experience of several decades, ensures that Clubs and Members are provided with effective and timely service regardless of the hour of the day and regardless of the location in the country. A typical day may witness up to half a dozen new matters extending through the west coast of India covering Mumbai, Jawaharlal Nehru Port and the Gujarat coastline. Lunchtime for claims handlers may very often mean a sandwich eaten while browsing emails. Add to this the back-up support provided to the other P&I offices of James Mackintosh through the country and 24 hours are just about fully utilised!
A variety of matters are handled from a typical steel loading survey to emotionally charged crew matters, matters relating to recovery of charter hire or simply owners requiring information to help them in a difficult local situation, the list of services desired and provided is endless. One distinct trend is the clear increase in crew matters, undoubtedly arising out of the growing employment of India seafarers over the past decade or so.
With meetings with agents, surveyors, officials and the occasional Club representative, the day is a bee-hive of activities. Of late, with the authorities becoming more environmentally conscious, it is part of the day’s business to receive calls from the port authorities enquiring on whether a ship entering Bombay (MUMBAI) or Nhava Sheva Harbour is adequately covered by insurance. Traditional Cargo claims handling is supplemented by more proactive involvement, including identifying buyers for cargo which may have been rejected by receivers and potential arrest of ships that may lead to huge delays and ever-increasing legal costs.
The 24-hours job and hurried lunches notwithstanding, the members of the P&I team love their routine and would not part for another line of work for anything! In a group with over 300 employees involved in a cross section of shipping activity, the P&I business continues to hold centre stage and remains at the core of the group’s activities today. An unfair advantage within the group, but good for the Clubs and their Members.