India’s Port of Chennai, which is struggling to cope with increased congestion, broke ground on the Chennai-Ennore road connectivity project, a long-standing demand of trade and user associations.
The project, estimated to cost $133 million, calls for construction of a 19-mile four-lane expressway connecting the port’s main access point with the state highway system.
“It is not only necessary that cargo handling capacity be augmented but also that our ports join the best in the world. For this and to link ports with production zones, schemes such as the Chennai-Ennore road connectivity project become important,” said Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony.
By The Numbers: U.S. Container Trade With India.
Port chairman A. Mishra said work on the road project, which is imperative to speed truck flow and decongest the port, will be completed in two years.
The proposal to build a four-lane connector was approved by the government in 1998, but the process hit a roadblock because of lengthy litigations over land acquisition and differences between local agencies over cost sharing.
It is one in a series of infrastructure improvement plans that the port authority has lined up for implementation over the next 10 years with an anticipated total investment of over $2 billion, boosting capacity from the current 51 million tons to 140 million tons a year.
The expansion program includes development of a deepwater container facility and a roll-on, roll-off car terminal.
Chennai, India’s second-largest container gateway, has been confronted with unprecedented yard delays and trucking problems over the past two months, prompting ocean carriers to apply emergency congestion surcharges on the trade. The disruptions were triggered by a mid-November truckers’ strike that lasted four days, creating a huge import backlog.
Container traffic at Chennai surged 26 percent year-over-year to 1.12 million 20-foot equivalent units in the first three quarters of fiscal 2010-11 ending Dec. 31.