Trucker strike cripples DP World Cochin supply chains

Trucker strike cripples DP World Cochin supply chains

The strike threatens productivity gains Cochin has made over the past year. Photo credit: Shutterstock

A section of unionized truck drivers serving DP World-operated Vallarpadam Terminal in India’s Cochin Port have been off the job for the past few days, disrupting supply chains and causing productivity issues for carriers that benefited from higher liftings at the emerging transshipment gateway last month.

Local shipping sources told JOC.com that the stoppage came after authorities launched a crackdown on vehicles violating weight regulations and revoked licenses of those drivers. Hundreds of containers are stranded at the terminal and off-site yards, they said.

No talks between union leaders and government authorities have reportedly been scheduled as of Monday morning in an attempt to end the standoff. Officials at DP World Subcontinent were also unavailable for comment.

“This is a major setback for the terminal and Cochin trade in general, when volumes were steadily picking up,” a shipping line agent told JOC.com.

DP World Cochin’s throughput during October hit a new monthly high of 51,000 TEU, a gain of 25 percent year over year.

“Our teams are focused on increasing the productivity through adoption of new technology and undertaking innovative initiatives such as building last-mile connectivity along with providing flexibility in accepting late cargo,” DP World Cochin CEO Jibu Kurien Itty previously told JOC.com. “These have resulted in an increase in the movement of commodities from the Tamil Nadu hinterland [a neighboring state] to rest of the world.”

Much of the gains are due to a new terminal operating system. Average crane rates have improved to more than 30 per hour, while trucks are able to turn around within 25 minutes, reportedly way ahead of the levels at competing terminals in the region, according to officials.

Additionally, DP World Cochin increased fiscal year 2016 to 2017 throughput to 491,000 TEU from 419,000 TEU in the prior year, representing an industry-best 17.2 percent rise, as nearby rivals struggled to grow.

Vallarpadam’s first phase includes 1,969 feet of quay, a draft of 48 feet, 109 acres of backup area, four quay cranes, 15 rubber-tire gantry cranes, three reach stackers, and two on-dock intermodal rail-sidings, with a capacity to handle 1 million TEU per year.  It will have a quay line of 1,800 meters (about 5,905 feet), 18 quay cranes, 54 gantry cranes, and an annual capacity of 4 million TEU at full build-out.