A lackadaisical shippers' attitude toward the clearance of cargo by intermodal train — where inherent rail inefficiencies also play a role — appears to be the main factor that pushed cargo dwell times at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in June, but authorities believe a steep reduction in free storage times, currently under regulatory consideration/approval, will remedy the problem to a substantial extent.
A new productivity analysis released by DMICDC Logistics Data Services (DLDS) — which is tasked with managing radio-frequency identification-enabled container tracking services at the port — highlights that concern. The report showed dwell times for cargo moved by train, particularly imports, increased considerably in June, impacting the overall port productivity performance.
“More than 50 percent of train-bound import containers at JNPT are taking greater than five days for clearance, resulting in higher dwell time,” the agency stated.
DLDS reported that railed imports incurred an average dwell time of 151.63 hours during June, compared with 98.35 hours in May. The dwell time for railed exports was 101.5 hours, versus 102.5 hours, respectively.
In contrast, there has been a dramatic improvement in dwell time rates for imports handled by road, ostensibly thanks to shippers’ rapidly growing participation in the direct port delivery program — in which consignees can clear their cargo direct from the wharf within 48 hours of landing at the port.
According to the analysis, dwell times for imports by truck decreased to 37.95 hours in June, from 51.02 hours in May, but truck exports took a hit regarding that performance, averaging 70.32 hours, versus 62.39 hours, respectively.
JNPT’s overall June performance
As a result, JNPT’s overall dwell time performance (truck/train combined) during June was as follows: 44.04 hours for imports, a 15 percent decrease from May; and 72.29 hours for exports, a 5 percent increase from May, new data show.
Dwell time is the time taken for exports inside terminal gates to be loaded onto a ship and imports onto a truck or train.
By terminal, APM Terminals’ Gateway Terminals India was the top performer in the western region, with an average overall dwell time of 53 hours in June. Still, that was not only no improvement on the prior month, but also was a sharp increase from 45.7 hours during June 2017.
Similarly, dwell times at other terminals in the JNPT harbor marginally decreased month to month, but the pace of cargo clearance drastically slackened year over year. Those figures were as follows: state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Container Terminal at 69 hours in June, from 72 hours in May, and from 54 hours in June 2017; DP World’s Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal at 61 hours, from 63 hours, and 58 hours; and DP World’s new Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal at 60 hours, from 62 hours, and 49 hours, respectively.
That number at PSA Internationals’ new Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals was 67 hours in June, compared with 70 hours in May, according to the analysis.
The study also found that the Adani International Container Terminal — a joint venture between Adani Group and Mediterranean Shipping Company at Mundra Port — was the worst performer among terminals in the west coast region, with an average dwell time of 89 hours during June.
JNPT handles the majority of India’s container freight and, as such, the government is extremely keen on reducing cargo dwell times there. This pressure forced JNPT authorities to formulate a uniform free storage policy for rail and truck cargo, offering three days per se, compared with seven days for rail and three days for truck, despite the apprehension of some stakeholders and the resistance of port-user groups. To that end, the regulator Tariff Authority for Major Ports is in the final stages of seeking public comments, and a decision is expected in the coming weeks.
That hard step is essential for the top public port to navigate a hyper-competitive market environment, as regional private rivals — Mundra and APM Terminals Pipavav — work hard to increase their share of hinterland cargo.