Pipavav Port shut as Railway track washed away

Pipavav: Cargo handling at Pipavav port in Gujarat’s Amreli district has come to a standstill after large portion of the main railway line connecting the port to northern India was washed away in the Wednesday’s flash floods.

All the operations at the port run by the Danish APM Terminals have been halted and railway officials said that it will take at least three weeks for the railway track to be repaired.

Thousands of containers, majority of them, bound for northern states, have piled up at the port.

A four-km long portion of the broad-gauge line between Dhola and Pipavav was washed away in the flood. The port is connected to northern India by a 269-km Surendranagar-Pipavav broad-gauge line, which also runs double-stack container trains. A major portion of it passes through Amreli which was devastated by the floods.

In an internal advisory to the importers and exporters, APM Terminals said: “Preliminary estimates to rectify and operationalize the damaged sections of the railway line is three weeks.”

“We have started the restoration work to resume the train services. If all goes well, the goods train services to Pipavav will resume next week,” Mashooq Ahmed, Divisional Commercial Manager, Bhavnagar Railway Division, told.

Sources in the railways said the restoration will take more time as entire area is filled with muck and even earthmovers are finding it difficult to move. “Moreover, if there are more rains, the work will be delayed further,” another official said.

The situation at the port is likely to worsen as a dozen vessels are scheduled to berth next week.

Officials said that they were making alternate arrangements to transport the containers via road to their respective destinations.

“The paper work for changing the mode of transport will take some time. This will delay the movement of cargo,” said an official of the Port.

Industry sources said that transporting cargo by road will be more time consuming and also escalate the cost of transportation.