Coastal shippers demand more Railway and Container facilities at Ports

They need priority berthing and more free time!

NEW DELHI: Coastal shipping players want priority berthing and more free time at ports as India looks to increase the share of coastal cargo movement. This emerged at a conference organised here recently by CONCOR and Maritime Gateway.

Container Corporation of India (CONCOR), the PSU which started a weekly coastal shipping service in January, between Kandla and Tuticorin, is witnessing an increase in the total logistics costs as its ships face delay due to lack of dedicated infrastructure for coastal cargo at ports, where priority is given to foreign vessels to berth, according to CONCOR CMD V Kalyana Rama.

Higher charges

The ports give priority to foreign vessels as they pay higher charges to the ports.

“The Shipping Ministry’s proposal to provide 40 per cent lower port charges for coastal cargo vessels tends to get diluted when the terminals are operated by the partners in the public-private partnership model,” said PK Agrawal, Director-Domestic, CONCOR. The customs paperwork tends to vary for coastal cargo in different ports.

These hitches need to be cleared if India has to achieve the Shipping Ministry’s target of moving about 12 per cent of cargo through coastal shipping against the current seven per cent.

“Tuticorin Port is already working on a proposal to increase the free time that coastal cargo vessels get,” said TK Ramachandran, Chairman, VO Chidambaranar Port, erstwhile Tuticorin Port, adding that the proposal is awaiting the Board’s approval.

“CONCOR plans to expand its coastal shipping service to other ports as well,” said G Ravi Kumar, Executive Director, CONCOR.

Meanwhile, CONCOR plans to operationalise its coastal cargo service between India and Bangladesh this year.

Cargo shipping

The service is likely to run between Krishnapatnam Port on the East Coast and Chittagong Port in Bangladesh, and would consider calling on other ports like Paradip and Hadia if the demand arises.

It is also working on a proposal to send cargo to ports in Iran, from where it can be moved to Russia using the rail route.

Goods are already moving on this route between India and Russia, but CONCOR is not a part of it.