NEW DELHI: A recent data regarding the volumes handled by Minor Ports reveals that there is considerable transhipment activity taking place at the Country’s emerging, privately operated, Minor Ports.
Leading that pack on the East coast is Krishnapatnam, an all-weather, deepwater harbor located about 112 miles North of Chennai. Industry sources says that the alternative gateway currently represents roughly as much as 80 percent of the South India transhipment market.
The analysis seems to back that claim, as Krishnapatnam’s transhipment volume reached 180,176 TEU from April 2017 to January 2018, out of its total volume of 401,574 TEU, compared with 58,225 TEU and 255,439 TEU, respectively, in the same period of fiscal year 2016 to 2017.
That big jump comes on the back of regular, weekly feeder connections between Krishnapatnam and dominant International hub ports such as Colombo, Sri Lanka; Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates; Salalah, Oman; and Hamad, Qatar.
As shippers and transport providers are negatively impacted with long-running congestion and productivity issues at Chennai, they now look for newer, alternative options. In fact Krishnapatnam has stepped up its efforts to capture more transhipment calls. To that end, the private port has achieved a draft of 16 meters (53 feet) with additional capital dredging, reportedly making it the deepest harbor on the East Coast.
“Larger vessels can now dock at Krishnapatnam to load or discharge hinterland as well as transhipment cargo speedily,” a company official said recently. Further, armed with advanced equipment and operating systems, the company boasts average crane moves of up to 50 per hour and gross crane rates running at 37 moves per hour.
Krishnapatnam currently includes two berths with a total quay of 2,150 feet, an 89-acre back-up area, nearly 5,000 ground slots, and a capacity of 1.2 million TEU per year. A second-phase development program calls for significant capacity expansion, covering 2,000 meters of quay, an 18-meter draft, much larger yard space, and more harbor equipment.
Those future plans and the expected demand boom are already driving private investor interest in the development of container freight stations in and around Krishnapatnam. Port-based logistics provider Gateway Distriparks Ltd. recently opened a 48-acre container freight station at Krishnapatnam, while industry reports hint at similar projects by other logistics providers.
Meanwhile, on the West coast, Adani Group-owned Mundra Port, is rapidly improving its transhipment volume. The analysis shows Mundra, India’s biggest private cargo hub, moved 426,994 TEU of transhipment cargo in fiscal year 2016 to 2017, out of its total volume of 3.45 million TEU during that year. In the prior year, Mundra’s transhipment traffic accounted for 366,217 TEU, out of the 3 million TEU handled there.
Mundra Port is benefiting from its industry-best productivity rates and strategic terminal partnerships with global transport giants Mediterranean Shipping Co. and CMA CGM. Further, both these liners have been steadily upsizing their tonnage deployments in Indian trades, with vessel capacities on major routes averaging 10,000 TEU.
Those collaborations and service upgrades have produced rich dividends for Mundra, with MSC vastly using its joint venture terminal — Adani International Container Terminals (AICT) — as a hub for the subcontinent region. AICT is in the midst of a major expansion program to increase its quay length to 4,790 feet, from 2,132 feet at present, add new quay cranes, and double capacity to 3.1 million TEU per year. This 50:50 venture handled 144,435 TEU in December, outpacing its peers in the private harbor, statistics show.