Ongoing congestion at India’s gateway Port of Chennai is driving demand for alternative port options on India’s east coast.
Vessel delays have prompted lines to implement a series of congestion surcharges at Chennai in recent years, and congestion at the port's two private container terminals is resulting in delays of at least 24 hours for trucks arriving to load or discharge containers.
Long-stalled plans to develop a container facility at Ennore, 24 kilometers (15 miles) north of Chennai, alongside the port's sizable bulk facilities are proceeding, with multiple companies expressing an interest in bidding for build-operate-transfer concessions for three quays of around 700 meters (2,300 feet).
Earlier this year, Larsen & Toubro opened a container terminal at the Port of Kattupalli, adjacent to Ennore. The terminal offers annual capacity of 1.2 million 20-foot-equivalent container units and has been designed so it can easily be expanded to 2.4 million TEUs.
The Port of Krishnapatnam, less than 120 miles north of Chennai and offering lines drafts of 18 meters (60 feet), expects to handle 200,000 containers in fiscal 2013-14. Capacity would be expanded to 1.1 million TEUs in four to five years, a spokesman told The Journal of Commerce. Port developer Navayuga Group, however, recently indicated plans to expand throughput capacity to 6 million TEUs by around 2017-18.
The port offers modern handling facilities and ease of access with crane moves of up to 50 per hour and average gross crane rates running at 37 moves per hour.
A four-lane dedicated road to National Highway 5, which links Chennai and Kolkata, also is scheduled to be upgraded to six lanes, and rail capacity is increasing.
“We do not see Chennai as a rival, but as an opportunity that is being explored,” a Krishnapatnam port spokesman said. “All the problems faced in Chennai are inversely proportionate to the advantages" that Krishnapatnam offers.
Maersk Line added a direct call at the port in January via its Chennai Express Service, a weekly intra-Asia loop linking India and the Far East.
“Lines and shippers are diverting traffic now to our port rather than using neighborhood terminals,” the spokesman said. “Container business is picking up by the day, and volumes are increasing at a good pace.”
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