Singapore-based ocean carrier APL said it is struggling to connect exports via terminals in India’s Port of Chennai because of severe port congestion and yard delays.
“The congestion at Chennai Port is getting worse and as a fall-out, inland container movements are severely affected. Export boxes of some carriers that arrived at the dockside rail terminal yard in early July have not been shipped out as equipment operators are unable to retrieve those boxes,” APL India said in a trade advisory.
The company urged shippers to reroute their cargo via other gateway ports on the southeastern coast — Cochin and Tuticorin — until congestion at Chennai eases.
“While we are working closely with all stakeholders to address trade concerns, we have come to a stage to admit that the situation is now totally out of our control and time guarantees cannot be met,” it said.
The disruptions at Chennai followed a series of strikes by container truck drivers from end-June to mid-July to protest increased vehicle turnaround times, creating a huge import backlog.
The problems forced the port-terminal authority to temporarily restrict export carting times to three days from four days. Citing additional operational costs, several carriers including Hapag-Lloyd imposed congestion surcharges, ranging from $50 to $65 per 20-foot container, on all export and import cargo handled at the port.
Meanwhile, Jawaharlal Nehru Port (Nhava Sheva), also rattled by serious congestion since mid-June, said on Thursday its container throughput fell 1.57 percent year-over-year to 1.43 million TEUs in April through July, the first four months of fiscal 2011-12.
Gateway Terminals, operated by A.P. Moller-Maersk, moved 628,000 TEUs, down from 627,000 TEUs in the same period last year.
Volume at DP World-managed Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal dropped to 494,000 TEUs from 539,000 TEUs, while traffic at the port-run terminal increased 7 percent to 308,000 TEUs from 288,000 TEUs.
Nehru’s total cargo tonnage during the same period was estimated at 21.6 million tons, up 1.25 percent from 21.3 million tons.
“The latest data shows a shortfall of 2.5 percent vis-à-vis the target of 22.15 million tons set by the Shipping Ministry for the April-July period,” port officials said.