Chennai port was the only major port that witnessed a drop in container handling during the first half of the current financial year.

The two private container terminals at Chennai port run by Dubai Ports and PSA Singapore witnessed a 7 per cent drop in combined container handling in the first half to 7.48 lakh TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) from 8.04 lakh TEUs in the same period last year.

Congestion, competition from neighbouring ports, especially Adani container terminal at Kattupalli in Ennore, and sluggish market conditions have been the factors behind the drop at Chennai port, sources said.

The volume at Kattupalli port is steadily increasing while Krishnapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh is offering better rates and container freight station rebate. They are adding to the woes of Chennai port, which is witnessing cost escalation. It is also facing congestion despite wider access road to the port, sources said.

At Kattupalli port, the Adani group has managed to more than triple container handling to 1.79 lakh TEUs in the first half of this fiscal from 56,000 in the first half of last year.

“Chennai port’s loss is Kattupalli’s gain. There has been a significant drift in container handling from Chennai to Katupalli. This trend will only increase in the days to come,” said an industry source.

Adani terminal at Katupalli added four new vessel services this year. Maersk Line’s Colombo Salalah Shuttle service shifted from Chennai to Kattupalli in April 2016. The other services calling at Katupalli are CCG (Chennai-Colombo-Gulf) service operated by Evergreen Line and Simatech, MD1; Singapore-Port Klang feeder operated by BTL, Wanhai and OOCL; and ACS service operated by HMM Line. Katupalli port has got six weekly vessel calls connecting coastal ports and global transshipment ports, making it an ideal gateway for the domestic and Exim trade in the region, sources said.