The Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal in India’s Port of Cochin began commercial operations Friday, a week after it was officially inaugurated by terminal operator DP World.
The first vessel to call the new terminal, which hit a roadblock because of labor and legal troubles, was the OEL Dubai operated by regional container carrier Orient Express Lines.
“In response to our appeal, a full bench of the Kerala High Court has set aside the Feb. 9 lower bench ruling to retain coastal cargo operations at the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal for three months,” a DP World Cochin official said.
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He also said ICTT launched full-fledged operations and the company is making all possible efforts to clear the shipping backlog.
According to OEL’s local agent, the Dubai with about 550 transshipment containers from Colombo arrived at Cochin Jan. 31 and was forced to stay at the outer anchorage because of the labor unrest. “Another two vessels of ours have also been stranded outside the port for several days,” the agent said.
The unrest was triggered by the workers’ concerns over potential loss of jobs once the private operator took over the entire container activity at the port. The seven-day strike was eventually called off Feb. 9 following the court’s intervention and directions to all stakeholders.
The $600 million facility is the first phase in DP World’s three-phase development at Vallarpadam -- offering an annual capacity of 1 million 20-foot equivalent units in the initial phase and 4 million TEUs when fully ready.
DP World Cochin is India’s first transshipment hub, and the turmoil has dealt a severe blow to government efforts to project Cochin as an attractive alternative to other major transshipment ports in the region such as Sri Lanka’s Port of Colombo, which largely depends on Indian cargo.
From April through January, Cochin handled 267,000 TEUs compared with 241,000 TEUs in the same period previous fiscal year.