The terminal authority at India's Port of Chennai temporarily suspended export cargo movements as congestion at its two marine terminals escalated.
The decision came at a recent meeting with stakeholders to review operational problems at the country's second-largest container gateway after the backlog of import boxes reached levels that hampered operations at the two terminals.
"The priority will be to evacuate over 11,000 containers presently lying in the terminals at the Chennai Port," officials said.
By The Numbers: U.S. Container Trade With India.
According to the latest update from port sources, the terminal yard inventory held nearly 18,000 20-foot equivalent units, mostly imports, as of Friday morning.
Officials said the situation was aggravated by a mid-November truckers' strike that lasted three days, coupled with rising traffic volume and a spate of festival holidays in recent weeks.
They also said accumulated containers will be cleared on a first-in, first-out basis, irrespective of nominated storage facilities or transport contractors.
At the meeting, transporters agreed to complete the evacuation in 4 to 5 days, moving 2,500 boxes a day.
Trade representatives said officials agreed to consider waiver of port penal charges, such as storage, demurrage and detention, on stranded containers, subject to final approval from the port chairman.
Chennai has two terminals: DP World-managed Chennai Container Terminal and the Chennai International Terminals operated by Singapore's PSA International. Total volume for fiscal 2009-10 was estimated at 1.22 million TEUs and at 891,000 TEUs for the April-October period.
The congestion and disruptions at Chennai come amid reports of a truckers' strike at Cochin and a strike by a group of dock workers at Haldia protesting a new shift pattern imposed by management.