JN Port has some catching up to do

Jose Paul | Updated on April 24, 2011

JN port should consider roping in private container terminal operators for higher productivity.

For almost five years Singapore retained the number one position among the world's top container ports but in 2010 Shanghai finally overtook Singapore to become the leading box port. Its throughput in 2010 reached 29.1 million TEUs, whereas Singapore handled 28.4 million TEUs. While Shanghai recorded an increase of 16 per cent over its traffic volumes in 2009 Singapore registered an increase of 9.9 per cent over the traffic in 2009 (Containerisation International London - March 2011).

It would be difficult for Singapore to challenge the premier position of Shanghai in the near future for two important reasons. The WTO's preliminary data suggest that China is the largest exporter with $1.58 trillion. Its strong growth in export traffic, the rising demand for Western goods and the Port's role at the head of the Yangtze river delta makes its position stronger. While China remained the largest exporter last year, it also remained the second largest importer in the same period.


Hong Kong maintained its third position in the league by handling 23.53 million TEUs, while Shenzen the Chinese Port, retained its fourth position by handling 22.51 million TEUs. While Hong Kong recorded an increase of 11.8 per cent, Shenzhen registered an increase of 23.3 per cent, suggesting it could overtake Hong Kong in a couple of years.

The largest European port Rotterdam finds itself at 10th place, having handled 11.15 million TEUs. Closely following are the three Asian ports namely Tianjin in China, Kaohsiung in Taiwan and Port Klang in Malaysia. Then come the two European ports of Antwerp and Hamburg at 14th and 15th places. The largest three US ports are Los Angeles, Long Beach and New York – New Jersey which are placed at 16th, 18th and 20th places in the league. The only Indian port that finds a place among the top 30 container ports is the JN Port in New Mumbai. But it has slipped from its 24th position to 25th position in 2010 despite handling 4.28 million TEUs and registering a growth of 10.9 per cent over the previous year. Columbo is fast coming up to challenge the JN Port as it improved its ranking from 30th place to 28th in 2010 by handling 4.12 million TEUs and registering a growth of 18.9 per cent. Unless additional capacity is created and put in operation the JN Port is likely to slip further.

India's container traffic has grown at about 15 per cent annually and can be considered impressive. For the first time, two ports in India seem to have exceeded the one million TEU mark. Chennai port has handled 1.5 million TEUs in 2010-11 and the Mundra Port in the private sector has made an impressive performance by handling over one million TEUs in 2010-11. Container traffic handled in all Indian major and non-major ports in 2010-11 does not seem to have exceeded 10 million TEUs.

A close scrutiny of container traffic handled at the three terminals at the JN Port reveals that JNPT handled the lowest volumes compared to the other two container terminals.

While the JN Port has a berth length of 680 metres the NSICT and GTICT have berth lengths of 600 meters and 712 meters respectively. The JN Port has a back-up area of about 130 acres while the NSICT and GTICT have back-up areas of 67 acres and 130 acres, respectively.


The JN Port management should seriously consider making available its own terminal to private container terminal operators for more efficiency and higher productivity.

Private terminal operators will be able to place the most modern Quay cranes, yard cranes and upgrade the quality and productivity of the terminal significantly by motivating the operational personnel with better rewards and incentives.

Under the public sector such changes can be effected very slowly and the response time to attend to market demands and pressures would be much slower. Since a highly competitive market environment exists in the JN Port, all the three container terminal operators will put in their best efforts to enhance service quality which, in turn, will help the JN Port reach its full potential of about 1.80 million TEUs as against the 0.88 million TEUs handled annually.

(The author, a former Chairman, Mormugao Port Trust, Goa, is visiting professor, Manipal University.)

Published on April 24, 2011

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