India’s Port of Chennai appealed to container terminal operators, shipping lines and shippers to help ease congestion at the congested southeastern hub.
Port chairman A. Misra said the two terminals have enough yard space to handle the normal flow of 4,500 to 5,000 trucks a day. He attributed the inventory backlog to disruptions caused by recent wildcat strikes by truckers as well as other labor groups in the port.
“The current inventory of about 18,500 20-foot export and import containers stacked in both the terminals was against the total yard capacity of around 27,500 TEUs,” he said.
The chairman said the port opened an additional exit gate, the Gate 2A, as part of interim measures to facilitate speedy evaluation of stranded boxes. “Discussions are underway on with the Southern Railway to open Gate 5 during night hours for entry and exit of vehicles."
He also said the port authority is working on a string of infrastructure improvement projects to speed truck flow, including development of a four-lane expressway connecting the port’s main access point with the state highway system. The port had floated a tender to develop a dedicated truck parking yard but the process elicited no positive response from the terminal operators, Misra said.
“Until the completion of all these projects, the trade bodies are requested to cooperate with the port in managing the situation and to achieve the goal ahead of us without bunching exit of import container trucks,” he said.
The port’s statement comes after major carriers, including Maersk Line, Hapag-Lloyd, CMA-CGM, Mediterranean Shipping Co. and NYK Line, issued trade notices with emergency surcharges ranging from $100 per TEU and $300 per FEU to compensate for increased congestion and berthing delays at the Chennai terminals. Some carriers also urged shippers to reroute cargo via other gateway ports in the region until the operational situation at Chennai improves.
Meanwhile, Hapag-Lloyd said the last Asia-Europe Service vessel CMA CGM Mimosa, which was slated to call Genoa, Italy, Sept. 22, skipped the Genoa call to recover schedule delays suffered at Chennai.
The German carrier said it is making arrangements to transship all Genoa-bound containers discharged at Malta by the ANS vessel.
Chennai is India’s second-largest container gateway, having racked up a record throughput of 1.52 million TEUs in fiscal 2011 ended March 31.