The congestion at Colombo Port has turned out to be an opportunity for Kochi at least in terms of gaining transshipment business following the diversion of some ships.
Of late, the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam has started receiving additional mainline ships on ad hoc basis with transshipment volumes following the diversion of MSC Lines to Kochi. The rising number of Covid cases among port workers in Colombo, has aggravated the existing congestion in that port.
Besides Kochi, Kamrajar Port near Chennai has also received one mainline vessel from Colombo with transshipment cargo, highly placed sources in the shipping fraternity said.
The pandemic condition has not yet eased and this coupled with an earlier strike by workers at Colombo has worsened the situation, resulting in the delay in turnaround of many mainline vessels prompting them to look at alternatives, the sources said.
Cochin Port Trust received first vessel MSC Stella on November 7, followed by MSC Qindao (November 9) and Anton Schulte (November 11) and ER Yukohama (November 14) Calls for two more vessels during this month have been finalised. Discussion are on for bringing more vessels.
Kochi has so far handled about 2,856 teus (Twenty-foot equivalent units) of foreign transshipment containers. The anchoring of these vessels has translated into a revenue earning of ₹2 crore by way of vessel related charges apart from 33.3 per cent of revenue sharing from DP World, the terminal operator, the sources said.
According to Praveen Joseph, CEO, DP World Kochi, the terminal has been seeing a steady increase in its transshipment volumes due to diversion of vessel calls from Colombo. These transshipment cargoes from MSC’s trans-continental services are to destinations such as Beira (Mozambique), Mersin (Turkey). “We are equipped to deal effectively with the customers’ needs and are constantly striving to create the competitive advantages to attract both gateway and transshipment volumes to Kochi”, he said adding that the terminal has clocked a 16 per cent rise in transshipment volumes in the first 10 months of 2020.
M Beena, Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust told BusinessLine that “the handling of these mainline vessels will definitely boost Kochi’s image in wooing transshipment cargoes especially at a time when the port is positioning itself as a transshipment hub of India to reduce the dependency on foreign ports for transshipment of Indian cargo”.
During the difficult and challenging periods of Covid-19, box traffic was down by five per cent. However, the difficult period is over and traffic started picking up after the easing of lockdown, reporting an all-time high monthly traffic of 62,472 teus in September, port officials said.