THE Hong Kong Shippers' Council (HKSC) has strongly urged the Government to implement a scheme of control (SoC) for operators successful in obtaining licences for cargo handling facilities at Chek Lap Kok airport. In a letter sent recently to the Provisional Airport Authority, the council stresses the need to introduce controls to contain rapidly rising costs paid by shippers. ''The council supports the single operator concept with a scheme of control for cargo handling at the new airport, based on shippers' experiences with and the track record of the operation at Kai Tak,'' Chan Wing-kee, chairman of HKSC, says. ''However, the Government seems intent on awarding licences to up to three operators at the airport. This may serve to introduce the competition needed to help keep costs from rising rapidly, but we also urge the Government to introduce other cost control methods now rather than at a later stage.'' In the letter to the Provisional Airport Authority, the Council restates its experience gained through following the developments at the Kwai Chung container terminals, where the operators are not subject to control. Shippers are now picking up the increasing costs set by a small number of franchises which have formed a price fixing cartel. ''While container throughput at the terminals has been increasing rapidly, shippers have not benefited by any reductions in average operating and capital costs per container that should have resulted from economies of scale. ''Furthermore, shipping lines are now collecting an additional terminal handling charge purportedly to recoup rising costs charged by terminal operators. ''As a result, shippers - as the ultimate users of the terminals - are being hit hard. They have to pay ever-increasing costs without any explanation about or discussion of charges imposed arbitrarily on them. ''There is no accountability nor transparency on the scale of charges in the absence of an SoC. Uncontrolled and unexplained cost increases are presenting an enormous burden threatening the economic livelihood of shippers,'' Mr Chan says. ''The HKSC, therefore, urges the authority to safeguard shippers' interests by implementing a scheme of control on the air-cargo handling licences at Chek Lap Kok. ''We believe strongly that an SoC would cap profits, as well as ensure greater accountability and transparency in cargo handling operations at the new airport,'' Mr Chan says. He says the council would be happy to discuss the proposal with the PAA and would wish to get involved in the process of drawing up the scheme and its subsequent implementation. The Hong Kong Shippers' Council, formally established in 1976, is a non-profit organisation with members including the major manufacturers, trading and commercial associations in Hong Kong. Its primary goal is to protect and promote the interests of Hong Kong exporters and importers in matters relating to the transport of merchandise by air, sea and land.