Logistics

Jawaharlal Nehru Port knocked out of top-30 list

Jose Paul | Updated on August 11, 2013

Colombo has overtaken Jawaharlal Nehru Port for the first time and is now placed at 31st position. — Paul Noronha

For a number of years Jawaharlal Nehru Port has been finding a place among the top 30 container ports in the world. But in 2012 it has slipped out of the top league as it could handle only 4.2 million TEUs whereas the 30th port Valencia handled 4.4 million TEUs.

Serious congestion, diversion of traffic to ports such as Mundra, Pipava and Hazira and the delay in the developing the fourth container terminal-all had a cumulative effect in pushing India’s premier container port out of the top league.

The list of leading 30 container ports published by the London-based “Containerisation International”, shows that Shanghai remains as the world’s No. 1 container port by handling 32.57 million TEUs -- a 2.6 per cent growth over the volumes handled in 2011. Singapore and Hongkong hold the second and third positions respectively by handling 31.64 and 23.1 million TEUs. The Chinese port of Shenzhen and the South Korean port of Busan remain at the fourth and fifth positions by handling 22.9 and 17 million TEUs respectively.



It is significant to note that the 6th, 7th and 8th positions have gone to the Chinese ports of Ningbo, Guangzhou and Qingdao. Dubai handled 13.2 million TEUs and maintained the 9th position. The largest container port in Europe namely Rotterdam handled 11.86 million TEUs but was pushed to the 11th position while the Chinese port of Tianjin occupied the 10th position by handling 12.28 million TEUs. China has eleven ports figuring in the top 30 slots suggesting a robust growth in the country’s foreign trade.



Vietnam and Saudi Arabia appear in the top 30 ports



The Malaysian ports of Port Klang and Port of Tanjung Pelepas remain at the 12th and 18th positions by handling 10 million and 7.7 million TEUs respectively. The Indonesian port of Tanjung Priok, the Thai port of Laem Chabang and the new rising star of Vietnam Ho Chi Minh and the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah have done well by remaining at 21st, 23rd, 25th and 28th positions respectively.



An analysis of the performance of the top 30 container ports reveals that in 2012 global box handling rose by an estimated four per cent to about 584 million TEUs. The projection is that by 2020 global container throughput is likely to exceed 800 million TEUs. In 2012 the top 30 container ports accounted for handling about 58 per cent of global container traffic,-–a figure that has remained relatively stable for the last five years.



Decline in volumes at the US and European ports



Another significant development is that the volumes handled in American and European ports are steadily declining. There are only three US ports in the top 30 namely Los Angeles (8 m), Long Beach (6.0 m) and Newyork/New Jersey (5.5 m) occupying the 16th, 22nd and 24th positions respectively. Likewise, there are only five European ports in the top 30 namely Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp, Bremen/Bremerhaven and Valencia which are placed at 11th, 14th, 15th, 20th and 30th positions respectively. This development is indicative of the weak economic environment in the US and Europe and sluggish growth of the American and European economies. In contrast, the stronger growth in Asian countries is reflected in the healthy growth in their port traffic.

The analysis further shows that out of the 30 top ports 22 are in the Asian region, representing 73 per cent. Investments in purpose-built container terminals in emerging markets in the Middle East, South Asia and the wider Asia region have been huge. There is no wonder why the main International terminal operators are active in the Asian region as these developing world markets are offering the best and the most sustainable growth prospects in the future.

Despite handling 4.2 million TEUs in 2012, the J N Port could find only at the 32nd position after Colombo. This is the first time Colombo has over taken the J N Port by handling 4.35 million TEUs thereby getting it placed at the 31st slot ahead of J N Port. While the J N Port recorded a negative growth of – 1.4 per cent Colombo port registered a growth of 2% in 2012.



Ambitious expansion plans for Colombo Port



Sri Lanka opened a $500 million container terminal at Colombo port last week--the biggest investment in the Island’s harbours as the country went ahead to upgrade its port infrastructure with Chinese help. The new terminal, built and operated by China Merchant’s Holdings International Company, will have capacity to handle 2.4 million TEUs a year and boost Colombo’s capacity by half. With the addition of new terminal Colombo will have a container handling capacity of 7.5 million TEUs.



Sri Lanka Port authority is also building another container terminal with an annual capacity to handle 2.4 million TEUs which is expected to be ready for operations in 2014. Sri Lanka Ports Authority launched its vision for 2020 in July 2013 which shows that Colombo would be able to achieve a container handling capacity of 10 million TEUs by 2020.



The new container terminal is 85 per cent owned by the China Merchant Holdings International with the rest owned by Sri Lanka Port Authority. It is designed to handle mega container ships of capacity upto 18,000 TEUs capable of accommodating the new Maersk Line’s Triple E Class Vessels which has just been pressed into service. Sri Lanka wants Colombo to compete effectively as a transshipment port with Dubai in the west and Singapore in the East.



Port development in Sri Lanka on fast track



It is indeed amazing to note that a country which was in the grip of a three decade long civil war has been able to develop its port infrastructure with a $ 3.7 billion funding from China and $ 300 million loan from the Asian Development Bank in addition to mobilizing its own money to the extent of $ 100 million. The mega port is protected by constructing a 6.8km long tsunami-resistant breakwater. Sri Lanka appears to have realised that the huge investments made by Singapore and Dubai have significantly contributed to faster economic development of these countries. Sri Lanka expects that its huge investment in port development will help it develop Colombo into a strategic transshipment hub along the world’s most lucrative trading route.



Port development in India



Port planners and decision makers in the Government would do well to realize that the size of India’s economy is thirty times bigger than that of Srilanka and the value of India’s foreign trade is twenty-six times bigger. Yet this tiny country in our neighbourhood- about half in land area compared to the State of Tamil Nadu and less than one third of Tamil Nadu’s population can boast of a container port ahead of India’s J N port.

It is high time that India realizes the importance of developing world class ports and accord a very high priority to port development to accelerate the pace of national economic development.

(The author is a former Acting Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Mumbai, and former Chairman, Mormugao Port Trust, Goa. He is a visiting professor at Manipal University.)

Responses may be sent to >drjospaul@rediffmail.com)

Published on August 11, 2013

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