Truck drivers at India’s Port of Chennai began a sudden strike Wednesday night, threatening serious delays to cargo moving through the country’s southeastern maritime gateway.
Truckers are protesting persistent delays at terminal entry gates after local customs and security authorities tightened export documentation scrutiny, as part of new security measures.
“Drivers are demanding written confirmation that there will not be any delays at port in-gates,” a shipping line agent reported from Chennai.
Officials said the stoppage created long queues of freight vehicles outside the port area, leading to potential missed shipping connections for outbound cargo and slowing inbound container movements.
As of Thursday morning, the terminal yard inventory held nearly 8,000 20-foot equivalent units.
Reports said despite several rounds of talks between the strikers and port officials, no settlement was reached as of early Thursday afternoon, and further negotiations are underway to resolve the impasse.
Chennai, India’s second-largest container hub after the Port of Nhava Sheva (Jawaharlal Nehru), currently has two terminals: DP World-managed Chennai Container Terminal and the recently-commissioned Chennai International Terminals, a joint venture between Singapore’s PSA International and Chennai-based Sical Logistics, with a combined capacity of 2.2 million TEUs. Throughput for fiscal 2008-09 was 1.14 million TEUs, compared with 1.12 million TEUs the previous year.
A proposed deep-water container terminal, for which bidding is in progress, is expected to boost Chennai’s capacity to more than 6 million TEUs a year.