Better productivity lifts growth at major Indian ports

Better productivity lifts growth at major Indian ports

India will introduce a new reform to improve supply chain velocity starting October 1.

Efficiency gains from technological advances combined with a slew of ease-of-doing-business schemes are driving up growth at India’s major, or public, ports that together account for roughly 70 percent of the country’s total container trade.

The newest port data collected by shows major ports’ cumulative throughput in August increased 7.7 percent to 772,000 TEU from 717,000 TEU in the same month last year.

Much of that growth is owed to an 8.5 percent year-over-year volume rise at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) during the month, reaching 409,000 TEU from 377,000 TEU previously. With steady productivity improvements, that trend is expected to gain further momentum at India’s largest public harbor.

August throughput at the Chennai Port was up 5 percent to 134,000 TEUs from 128,000 TEUs a year earlier, a clear sign that the busiest eastern harbor has been vigorously fighting to hold onto its market share amid cut-throat competition from private rivals.

A previous analysis showed Chennai still commands roughly 40 percent of total South India container trade, but privately-operated minor ports, especially Adani Group-owned Kattupalli, are making rapid inroads into the market that is already oversupplied and has limited hinterland cargo potential.

JNPT and Chennai together load the majority of India’s containerized freight moving through major ports. Like JNPT, Chennai is expanding the direct port delivery (DPD) program to cut dwell times. DPD volume in the April-to-August period increased to about 17 percent, or 63,2497 TEU of the total 380,503 TEU, from 14 percent in the same period last year.

August volumes at other major ports were as follows: Kolkata, up 9 percent from 64,000 TEU to 70,000 TEU; Tuticorin, or V.O. Chidambaranar, essentially flat at 56,000 TEUs; Cochin (DP World-operated Vallarpadam Transshipment Terminal), up 15 percent from 44,000 TEU to 51,000 TEUs; and Visakhapatnam, down 6 percent from 34,000 TEUs to 32,000 TEUs, new statistics show.  

The figures at DP World Cochin are reportedly a monthly volume record, suggesting that it is making headway in meeting the long-term government goal of recapturing domestic cargo transshipped over foreign hub ports, especially Sri Lanka’s Colombo.

However, New Delhi’s plans to develop a dedicated transshipment hub at Enayem, near Colachel, and Adani Ports’ new Vizhinjam project, just 140 miles from Cochin, could weigh on growth at Cochin upon their completion.

On a year-to-date basis, major ports’ total throughput was up 6.4 percent to 3.8 million TEU from 3.5 million TEU in the April-to-August period of 2016, with JNPT accounting for 2.02 million TEU, a gain of 6.2 percent year-over-year, according to the collected data.  

Technology-backed ease-of-doing-business program at Indian ports will enter a new phase Oct. 1. Customs will begin allowing “electronic self-sealing” services for factory-stuffed export shipments with the use of radio-frequency identification tags, which is expected to significantly enhance supply chain security and facilitate smoother cargo flows by eliminating many physical on-site customs inspections.