Indian container traffic rises as port productivity efforts pay off

Indian container traffic rises as port productivity efforts pay off

The growth comes as India works to expand port capacity through greenfield developments and equipment and process upgrades at existing ports.

The Narendra Modi-led government, which has made Indian port development a high priority and is working feverishly to improve productivity at major ports, is starting to see some results.

The newest provisional port statistics collected by from port sources show major public ports booked first fiscal-quarter growth of 6.23 percent in container volumes compared with the same period last year.

The growth story comes as India moved up 19 spots to rank 35th in the World Bank's 2016 Logistics Performance Index Survey.  

The country’s 12 major ports, handled a combined volume of 2.12 million 20-foot-equivalent units from April to June, roughly 70 percent of India’s overall container trade, compared with 1.99 million TEUs a year earlier, according to the latest port data.

Of that, Jawaharlal Nehru Port accounted for 1.14 million TEUs, up 3.28 percent from 1.11 million TEUs during April to June 2015, representing roughly 55 percent of India’s total containerized traffic via major ports.  

By terminal, APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India shipped 435,889 TEUs in the first quarter, down 7.57 percent from 471,600 TEUs. DP World’s Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal continues its struggle to regain momentum despite gate automation, with first-quarter volume slumping 36.5 percent year-over-year to 191,860 TEUs. NSICT’s new sister facility, Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal, loaded 117,014 TEUs in the first three months.  

Port-operated Jawaharlal Nehru Container Terminal, which has been on a strong growth curve over the past year, increased throughput by about 23 percent year-over-year to 399,304 TEUs.

JNPT last week became the first Indian port, at a cost of Rs. 125 (about $1.9) per container, to introduce a container tracking system using radio-frequency identification technology to track goods in transit through the port to inland container depots, container freight stations and end-users.

Chennai’s first-quarter volume fell 5.3 percent year-over-year to 378,000 TEUs, but recent gate and rail upgrades should help the port arrest its declining trend in the coming months. Speaking to last week, DP World Chennai said its terminal realized significant productivity gains because of these upgrades and coordinated efforts with stakeholders.

JNPT and Chennai together load nearly 80 percent of the containers passing through India’s major ports.

First-quarter container volumes at other major ports were as follows: Kolkata, up 26 percent from 149,000 TEUs to 188,000 TEUs; Tuticorin, or V.O. Chidambaranar, up 9.5 percent from 148,000 TEUs to 162,000 TEUs; and Visakhapatnam, up 40 percent from 62,000 TEUs to 87,000 TEUs, according to the latest figures.

DP World-operated International Container Transshipment Terminal, or Vallarpadam Terminal, continued its upward march as first-quarter volume was up 26 percent year-over-year to 120,000 TEUs.