One of India’s major ports on its western coast is going through a financial crisis after the commissioning of the country’s only international container transshipment terminal (ICTT) operated by the DP World, officials said on Monday.
“The ambitious ICTT project works far below capacity due to inadequate feedering of containers. The port has had to resort to austerity measures, including freeze of dearness allowances (to employees) and restrictions in many labour allowances,” the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) said in a statement.
However, the financial year ended on Saturday saw high cargo productivity and initiative to venture into activities, which were being outsourced. The port has an average pre-berth detention time of 4.09 hours, an average turnaround time of 1.84 days and an average berthday output of 15,884 tonnes, comparing well with national benchmarks.
The CPT has achieved a 12 per cent growth to reach the 20 million mark in tonnes of cargo handled in a year for the first time. The port has achieved a throughput of 20.1 million tones, with a growth rate which is second highest among major Indian ports. The oil handling increased by 14 per cent, while break bulk and bulk handling increased by 53 per cent and 14 per cent. The container throughput showed only a modest increase of 6 per cent.
The port has initiated the process of inducting in modern cargo handling infrastructure. A modern mobile harbour crane to support bulk/break bulk handling will be commissioned in June. The stevedoring capacity of the port has been increased with induction of stevedores from various regions of the hinterland of the port.
The port is now in a position to assure ‘berthing on arrival’ to large bulk carriers with up to 12.5 m draft on Willingdon Island. The port is giving a face lift to its warehouses for better storage and to operationalise modern cargo tippers within the godowns and has started replacing the old fenders with modern fenders and modern polythene buoys to ensure navigational safety.
Provision has been made for direct barge loading from its Ernakulam and Mattancherry wharves. The ‘Nokku Kooli’ or members of the organised trade unions extracting money without doing anything and just looking at the actual employees work, in the peripheral sectors is being encountered sternly.
“The port had given a slew of fiscal concession to prop up handling of potential cargo. Tariff concessions for cruise and feeder container vessels and non-tariff concessions for coffee export sector have been positively received,” it said.
The port has finalised a master plan for optimum use of its resources post the vacation of container handling from Willingdon Island. The tender process for developing the former Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal into a major automated bulk handling terminal is underway.
A tender to develop the plot for a major cement handling facility at its Q5 berth has also been released. The Q4 berth is being developed as a terminal for bulk oil handling. An LPG unloading and bunkering facility is also being developed.
“The bunkering activity at the port saw quantum jump in the previous year and the growth trend is likely to sustain in the year ahead. The Port is adding a modern Cruise Facilitation Centre at its BTP berth to cater to cruise tourists. The port handled 2 turn around operations in the previous year with over 40 cruise vessels expected in this season,” the statement said.
A Free Trade Warehousing Zone is being developed in the South End area of the Willingdon Island to cater to the increasing demand for supply chain activities. A Tea Trade Centre is being planned to develop high-end consolidation activities for the tea export sector.