The continuing strike by trailer crew at Kochi port has cast a shadow over the Vallarpadam container terminal which completed two years of operations today.

The Rs 3,200-crore Vallarpadam terminal was inaugurated on February 11, 2011, with the objective to reduce India’s dependence on foreign ports to meet transhipment needs.

However, the indefinite strike demanding wage increase which commenced on February 4, has virtually crippled the terminal operations affecting cargo movement to and from ICTT.

It is reported that the conciliatory talks convened by the State Labour and Port Minister in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday has also failed to reach an amicable settlement on the issue and the strike is expected to continue.

Senior port officials said though ICTT was inaugurated in 2011, the terminal was not functioning as a transhipment terminal because the procedures for the same were not in place. During the last two years, growth has been negative.

In December 2012, the Government relaxed Cabotage restrictions facilitating transhipment at Vallarpadam. With this, the terminal registered a growth of 7 per cent in container arrivals in January, the officials added.

According to DP World officials, the ongoing strike has resulted in the piling up of containers especially imported cargo, as there are around 6,000 TEUs lying in the terminal including perishable commodities. This is likely to create congestion in the terminal in the coming days .

P. Narayan, President of the Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the port is being held to ransom by a few vested interests at a time when other ports around the country are progressing steadily and equipping themselves to take on global competition.

sajeevkumar.v@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 11, 2013)
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