A ‘marine highway’ to ferry containers by barges between Chennai and Ennore ports has been mooted. The Shipping Ministry is also very keen on this project, which will decongest the road highway.

Containers coming to Chennai’s two private container terminals can be taken by barges to Ennore via the sea. From Ennore, the containers can be taken to an off-dock container freight station for customers to take delivery of the cargo, said CII’s pre-feasibility report ‘Logistics Collaboration between Ennore and Chennai ports.’ The report was released by Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan.

Due to congestion delays container terminals at Chennai are currently handling 1,200 trucks every day against the road handling capacity of 1,700 trucks. The remaining 500 trucks are parked on city roads. At least 2,000 container trucks wait for a minimum of 24 hours on a daily basis on Chennai port access roads from S.N. Chetty Street up to Central Warehousing Corporation, Madhavaram, the report prepared by Athena Infonomics says.

If a private operator constructs the civil infrastructure and operates the barge, the potential saving per container could be Rs 1,600. However, if the port sets up the civil infrastructure and allows a private operator to run the barge operations, then the potential saving could increase to around Rs 2,500 per container.

The expected travel time for the barge between the two ports is four hours against the present scenario of over 24 hours, the report said.

Shipping Secretary P.K. Sinha, who suggested the barge connection long time back, said that a small core group with representations from CII, Chennai and Ennore ports should be formed to take this project forward.

If this project succeeds, it can be taken up in other ports too, he said.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 9, 2013)
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