The pace of growth at public Indian ports could accelerate further in the coming months as ongoing productivity drives start to yield results, providing relief to shippers in the region that must cope with chronic port congestion.
The country’s 12 public port trusts through the first three fiscal quarters cumulatively handled 6.32 million twenty-foot-equivalent units, compared with 6.08 million TEUs in the same period of 2015, the latest provisional figures collected by JOC.com, part of IHS Markit, show. That 4 percent increase is due largely to productivity improvements from digitizing various port processes such as truck check-ins and infrastructure investment under the Sagar Mala port-led development program.
Nine-month volume at Jawaharlal Nehru Port, which loads the majority of India’s containerized freight, inched up 1 percent year-over-year to 3.38 million TEUs from 3.35 million TEUs.
By terminal, April-to-December volumes were as follows: APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India, at 1.3 million TEUs, down 8 percent from 1.4 million TEUs; Jawaharlal Nehru Container Terminal, at 1.2 million TEUs, up 14 percent from 1.06 million TEUs; and DP World-operated Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal, at 569,228 TEUs, down about 30 percent from 799,678 TEUs.
DP World’s new facility in the harbor, Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal, moved 303,507 TEUs in the nine-month period, a near threefold rise from 105,647 TEUs previously.
Of the other major ports, all but Chennai recorded strong pickups in container handling in the first three quarters year-over-year thanks to new service additions and productivity improvements.
Amid chronic congestion issues and increasing competition from nearby private ports, Chennai’s volume fell 4 percent to 1.17 million TEUs from 1.12 million TEUs during April to December 2015.
A port productivity analysis by JOC.com showed Chennai shippers continue to rely heavily on trucks even as authorities provided upgraded intermodal services and tariff incentives to convert freight from road to rail, a shift the port needs to speed up cargo flows and win back business lost to private rivals.
April-to-December volumes at other major ports were as follows: Kolkata, up 16.6 percent from 487,000 TEUs to 568,000 TEUs; Tuticorin, or V.O. Chidambaranar, up 6 percent from 472,000 TEUs to 445,000 TEUs; Cochin (DP World-operated Vallarpadam Terminal), up 20 percent from 306,000 TEUs to 367,000 TEUs; and Visakhapatnam, up 32.5 percent from 210,000 TEUs to 278,000 TEUs, new statistics show.
Major ports account for roughly 70 percent of India's overall container trade. To make them more competitive, the government last month approved a long-awaited proposal to transform these public ports into independent companies with greater autonomy, especially pricing power.