Visakhapatnam Port Trust hopes to award by the year-end or early next year the contract for the extension of the container berth from the present 450 metres to 850 metres.

“We will open the price bids shortly,” a spokesman for the port said. “The work is to be completed within 24 months and once complete, the berth will be the longest such facility in the country.”  The cost is estimated at more than Rs 600 crore.

“We, along with a few others, have bid for the berth extension job and we will have the first right of refusal,” said a spokesman for Visakha Container Terminal  Pvt  Ltd, the joint venture between United Liner Agency belonging to the Mumbai-based J M Baxi Group, and the Dubai-based D P World. The joint venture company operates the port’s container terminal known as Visakha Container Terminal (VCT).

Meanwhile, the capacity of the VCT has been doubled to 0.5 million TEUs annually at a cost of about Rs 120 crore.  The capacity doubling, known as the third phase expansion, presupposes installation of  two new super post-Panamax  quay cranes and four rubber tyred gantries (RTGs) supplied by KoneCranes of Finland.  

With this, VCT now has four ship-to-shore gantry cranes, one mobile harbour crane, six RTGCs and six reach stackers. Creation of additional stacking space  within the terminal  to increase the total ground slots from 1500 TEUs to 2500 TEUs and installation of additional reefer plugs, bringing the total to 192, are also part of the third phase of expansion, it pointed out.

Commissioned in 2003, VCT’s throughput in 2011-12 was 2.3 lakh TEUs posting more than 60 per cent growth over 2010-11, the highest for any container terminal. The target for the current fiscal has been set at 2.8 lakh TEUs.

Currently the terminal handles two mainlines services, namely, CHX (Chennai Express) operated by Maersk and Indfex (India Far East Express) 2, by a consortium of shipping lines, namely, PIL, K Line, Hanjin and Shipping Corporation of India.  “Several feeder operators such as Far Shipping, APL, BTL, Seaways and Shreyas Shipping offer services from the terminal and we handle more than 30 calls every week,” the spokesman adds.   

The growth in throughput is also attributed to what is described as “the awakening of the hinterland to the new-age metals and minerals industry”.  The development of refractory units, chemicals and pharmaceuticals and a jump in movement of marine and agro-based commodities too have contributed to the growth.  “Today, VCT offering a draft of 16.5 metres is not only number one  in transhipment volume but also the only transhipment hub on the east coast from Kolkata/Haldia to Paradip,” the spokesman adds.

(This article was published on September 19, 2012)
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