WASHINGTON: Container volumes at India’s major public ports are growing steadily after a sluggish performance last fiscal year, and with new government port connectivity schemes — as well as other infrastructure upgrades in the pipeline — the pace of growth is expected to accelerate in the coming months.
The newest provisional port statistics collected by JOC.com show container throughput at the 12 major ports in the first two fiscal months through the end of May increased 4.27 percent year-over-year to 1.39 million twenty-foot-equivalent units. Of that, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust accounted for 757,026 TEUs, up 1.33 percent from 747,091 TEUs in the corresponding period last year, representing roughly 55 percent of India’s overall containerized traffic via major ports. Most notably, the top port exceeded its target of 756,330 TEUs set for the two-month period.
By terminal, APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India handled 281,737 TEUs in April and May, down 12 percent from 319,773 TEUs last year. Volume at DP World’s flagship Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal slumped 36 percent year-over-year to 133,909 TEUs, while the company’s new, second facility in the harbor — Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal — loaded 75,003 TEUs in the same period.
By contrast, port-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Container Terminal continued its upward march, aided by equipment upgrades and new service additions. JNCT’s throughput jumped 25 percent from April to May 2015 to 266,377 TEUs, according to the data. Chennai Port continues to struggle with congestion issues, despite aggressive efforts by stakeholders to speed truck turn times, as volume in the first two fiscal months fell 8.5 percent year-over-year to 245,000 TEUs, according to the newest data.
Authorities at Chennai have been trying to drive up rail shipments via tariff incentives in a bid to ease growing pressure on connecting roadways. Additionally, the government last month approved a Rs. 12.68 crore ($1.9 million) contract for the construction of an internal rail project at Chennai, and plans are under way to automate gate systems at the port.
JNPT and Chennai together load nearly 80 percent of the containers passing through India’s major ports. Other public ports from April to May recorded container volumes as follows: Kolkata, up 30 percent from 96,000 TEUs to 125,000 TEUs; Tuticorin, or V.O. Chidambaranar, up 9 percent from 98,000 TEUs to 107,000 TEUs; and Visakhapatnam, up 31 percent from 42,000 TEUs to 55,000 TEUs, according to the collected data.
DP World’s International Container Transshipment Terminal, or Vallarpadam Terminal, at Cochin continues to see strong growth, thanks to new mainline service calls and operational efficiency. Statistics show Vallarpadam’s volume in the first two months increased 29 percent year-over-year to 80,000 TEUs. “With attractive schemes offered by Cochin Port Trust and striking rates offered by ICTT, the terminal is hopeful to attract new services for the U.S. East Coast,” DP World Cochin Chief Executive Officer Jibu Kurien Itty told JOC.com.
In terms of total tonnage, throughput at major ports in the two-month period was up 6.34 percent from a year earlier to 107.5 million tons, signaling an acceleration of freight movements. An analysis of the newest data shows Kandla had throughput of 17.4 million tons, up 8.4 percent, followed by Paradip, up 17 percent to 14 million tons; JNPT, down 3.9 percent to 10.7 million tons; Mumbai, down 1.4 percent to 10.5 million tons; Visakhapatnam, up 15.6 percent to 10.3 million tons; and Chennai, down 5.7 percent to 8.5 million tons.
After neglecting India’s ports and related transport infrastructure for decades, New Delhi is pouring large amounts of effort and investment into setting up new cargo facilities, expanding existing terminals, upgrading connectivity networks and building port-based industrial clusters to stimulate growth. The government has also set up a new, dedicated administrative wing to facilitate private investment in infrastructure projects.
A recent three-day investor conference in Mumbai was a shot in the arm for the industry from the Narendra Modi-led government as authorities awarded nearly 140 public-private-partnership contracts involving a total investment of Rs. 83,000 crore (about $13 billion). Of these, JNPT snapped up 20 contracts worth Rs. 14,825 crore, according to details released by the Ministry of Shipping.