Goa port looks at options to tide over financial crunch

Our Bureau | Updated on January 27, 2013 Published on January 27, 2013

That there is a danger in overdependence on single commodity is being realised the hard way by Mormugao Port Trust, Goa. Traditionally, iron ore export accounted for more than 80 per cent of the port’s total traffic. For various reasons, the traffic has now virtually vanished from the port, causing a huge cash crunch for the port authorities, so much so that the payment of wages and salaries to 2,600-plus employees has become a matter of concern.

Several options are being examined to tide over the crisis. One is downsizing through voluntary retirement scheme (VRS), for which both support and consent of the Union Government will be needed. Other options include taking financial assistance, short-term, long-term, soft and all other kinds, from the Union Government as well as cash-rich port trusts like Kandla, Visakhapatnam, JNPT , Chennai and Paradip. This is again subject to the approval of the authorities in Delhi. It might be noted that the problem over iron ore export is not a new thing.

In the 1960s and 1970s, mechanised iron ore handling facilities were created at a huge cost at several east coast ports solely to cater to Japanese demand. The facilities were left idle and allowed to rot as the projected Japanese buying did not materialise.

Maritime piracy has comes down due to navies’ presence

With 297 attacks in 2012, the global maritime piracy hit a five-year low, according to International Maritime Bureau. The number of people held hostage declined to 585 in 2012 from more than 800 in 2011. During the year, 174 ships were boarded by pirates, 28 hijackers and 28 fired upon, six crew were killed and 32 injured or assaulted, all considered welcome reductions, according to an IMB report.

All this became possible because of a sharp drop in piracy off Somali coast, largely due to the presence of international navies. It is therefore feared that any withdrawal of the navies will mean a return to old form. However, what is causing concern is the rise in number of attacks off West African coast. In the Gulf of Guinea, guns were used in 37 of 58 incidents reported. In Nigeria 13 vessels were boarded, eight fired upon and two attempted attacks, up from 10 in 2011. In Togo, the figure increased to 15 from five. Ivory Coast reported its first hijacking of a Panamax tanker by Nigerian pirates. The lone exception is Benin, where the number of incidents reported declined to two from 20 in 2011.

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Published on January 27, 2013
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