Shipping agents operating from Dubai and Sharjah to East African Ports of Mombasa, Dar Es Salaam & Zanzibar have to cough more money after the main shipping lines, including AFRICAN SHIPPING LINES-DUBAI, raised the bunker surcharge to 54.56 per cent, which is double the rate charged two years ago.

The increase, which was effected on May 10 by many shipping lines and members of the East African Conference Lines (EACL) trade association in a notice to its member lines, reflects the recent sharp rise of world oil prices.

The notice issued from the EACL London office said: "Having regard to the increase in Bunker prices, the member lines(EACL) have announced that the current bunker surcharge will be revised to 54.56 per cent effective on all shipments south bound by vessels sailing from each port of loading on and after 10th May 2008.

The situation will continue to be closely monitored and the surcharge adjusted accordingly," said the notice that comes barely six months after the last review on December 10.

Bunker surcharge, otherwise referred as fuel cost adjustment factor, is the additional charge levied by shippers to compensate for fluctuations in the price of the ship's fuel.

Bunker prices comprise a major component of the overall costs for operating a vessel.

The surcharge that has been applying since December 10 last year was 46.09 per cent on all shipments south bound by EACL vessels, while the figure of the preceding quarter (September 10 to December 9) was 37.63 per cent.

In 2004, the bunker price averaged $175, which compares dismally with the current $560 to $585 for heavy fuel.