KOCHI: The Cochin Port Trust proposes to offer special facilities to handle cotton in a bid to attract a part of this export-import cargo now being handled at the neighbouring Colombo Port.
The idea is to make Kochi as the hub for cotton trade, said P Raveendran, who took over as the Chairman of the port recently.
“We have approached the Southern India Mills Association, Coimbatore, offering dedicated facilities to import, store and re-export cotton at the ICTT at Vallarpadam,” he said.
Preliminary talks with shippers are encouraging. The Customs bonded area and SEZ status of Vallarpadam terminal offer advantage to the cotton trade, he said recently. Matters regarding customs procedures and other issues will be discussed later. Right now, SIMA is bringing cotton in containers using the Colombo Port as a hub. Kochi offers facilities that match international standards for import, warehousing and re-export of the commodity at comparable cost. If everything goes as per plan, the port expects to handle 30,000 TEUs of cotton in the current year, he said.
As part of its strategy to boost traffic, the port is also reaching out to companies in the petroleum sector to set up tank farms so as to expand the bunkering service. “We are in the process of floating EOI offering facilities to set up tanks farms in the 24 acre land at Puthuvypeen,” Raveendran said.
The availability of bunkering fuels at competitive rates in Kerala coupled with Kochi’s locational advantage enabled the port to achieve a 22 per cent growth in bunkering services last year.
The port expects the volume of steel and cement cargo to go up in coming months. JSW Steel which is bringing steel to southern States via Coastal Shipping has started using Cochin Port. The volume is expected to be about one lakh tonnes in the current fiscal.