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Minister's promise to start work on Chennai road by Jan cheers trailer operators

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Project still in ‘tendering' stage; 13 companies show interest.

Mr G.K. Vasan
Mr G.K. Vasan

Our Bureau

Chennai, Dec. 11

The Union Shipping Minister, Mr G.K. Vasan's promise today that work on the arterial Ennore-Manali road will commence by January and be completed in two years should bring cheer to thousands of container trailer operators who have been battling for this project for many years.

The operators, however, want the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to first repair the damaged road (due to the recent rain) so that vehicles could ply smoothly to and from the Chennai port, said Mr A. Raja, Secretary of the Trailer Operators Association. “Everyday there is an accident due to the damaged road. It is a nightmare to drive on such a bad road,” he told Business Line.

Announced by the Tamil Nadu Government in 1998, the cost of the Chennai-Ennore Port Road connectivity project, earlier called Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project, has escalated by four times to Rs 600 crore. The project is to enable free flow of truck traffic from and to the Chennai port in North Chennai. The port handles over 5,000 containers a day and trucks need to take this Ennore-Manali road for entry and exit to the port. The project is still in the ‘tendering' stage — previous tenders were cancelled for various reasons.

Funding plans

Mr Vasan, at a press conference, said the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) has so far released Rs 48 crore as part of its contribution to the special purpose vehicle, while the Ennore Port Ltd (EPL) has contributed Rs 8.75 crore. The ChPT today released another Rs 19 crore and the EPL another Rs 5 crore for the project. The ChPT's total contribution will be Rs 139.80 crore and that of EPL will be Rs 34.20 crore and the two ports will soon release more funds to fast track the project implementation, he said.

“This [the project] is a serious issue. There should be no reason for the delay. It is a very difficult area [north Chennai]. Work should start immediately and should be completed on time,” he told the officials of NHAI present in the meeting.

Mr S. Jaswanthkumar, Chief General Manager, NHAI, said 13 companies have shown interest in the project. The financial bids will be opened shortly and work order will be issued by January. In the last two years, the NHAI had spent Rs 22 crore to maintain the Ennore-Manali road but the recent rains damaged the roads badly. The authority will spend another Rs 1.2 crore to repair the roads before December, he said.

Parking yard

Mr Vasan also announced that the ChPT would take 11.26 acres from the Tiruvottiyur Municipality on lease for 30 years to enable trailers with export cargo be parked in the area. An investment of Rs 139 crore will be paid as rent (at the rate of Rs 11 lakh per month) to the Municipality, he said.

Related Stories:
Roadblocks to Chennai port's profitability
Chennai port suspends handling export containers

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 12, 2010)
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