JNPT mandates BlackBuck to run an 'Uber-like' truck trailer e-market place to deliver containers

P Manoj MUMBAI | Updated on October 24, 2019

This is a representational image only.   -  Bloomberg

Move aimed at de-congesting port and reducing costs

State-run Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has “authorised” on-line truck aggregator BlackBuck to roll-out a ‘Uber’-like model for picking up and dropping cargo containers from and to some 34 container freight stations (CFS) located in a 50-km radius of India’s busiest container gateway, as part of a plan to improve ease of doing business, cut costs and drive efficiency.

The move follows a failed attempt last year to introduce a transport arrangement for moving direct port delivery (DPD) containers from JNPT to customers premises located along five different hinterland destinations spread across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Goa. That effort collapsed due to strong opposition from local transporters.

This time around, JNPT is implementing the plan in a low-key manner to avoid controversy and confrontation with some 1,000 small local transporters who own about 17,000 tractor trailers that haul containers to and from the port.

This will be BlackBuck’s second such deal after striking a partnership with Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipping firm, in August, to aggregate trailers for moving containers.

“BlackBuck has been authorised for moving containers from JNPT to the nearby CFS and vice-versa. This will bring a drastic change in the ecosystem within 50 kms radius of JNPT. Trailer operators are used to creating artificial demand but if it is systematised, it will de-congest the port and bring cost benefit to the CFS and savings in logistic cost for exporters and importers,” said an official briefed on the plan, adding that BlackBuck has been authorised to operate “on an experimental basis to test the market before a full-scale roll-out”.

BlackBuck will hire truck trailers and pay a fixed amount to drivers for each trip besides offering incentives. The model will use a software to control the trailer movements- how to move and where.

More than 6,000 containers each are brought in and taken out of JNPT daily on some 10,000 trucks.

“What is happening today is that truck trailers carrying loaded containers come in and most of them go back empty after dropping off the boxes inside the port while at the same time, empty trailers are coming in to fetch loaded containers from the port. Why should empty truck trailers enter the port when empty trailers are exiting the port? This unnecessary movement of truck trailers is resulting in chaos inside the port. That’s why this has been planned. Now, a laden truck coming in will carry a loaded box on the way out instead of going empty,” the official said.

It will also help inter-terminal movement of containers from/to different terminals at JNPT, boosting their productivity and capacity utilisation.

“Today, JNPT is infested with so many empty trucks; they are not finding a place for parking, they are parking randomly on the roads, resulting in traffic logjams and the public is not at all happy with this situation”, he said.

JNPT reckons that some 80% of the trailers will opt for this transport arrangement. Currently, hardly 25% of the trailers get a loaded container on the return leg and that too with a bit of luck.

“With this model, empty trailers coming in or going out will be reduced substantially. Besides, a trailer is presently taking 6-8 hours for going around with the cargo container for delivery on a 15-km trip. This will now be reduced to 30 minutes,” the official said.

“We want a business model that is transparent and which is not our core job as a port. We are not getting into it, but we have authorised BlackBuck. It has started interacting with various stakeholders such as truckers, CFS and terminals to get them on board this e-platform. Let’s see the results. If it is successful in de-congesting the port and reducing logistic costs, then why not go for it full-fledged,” he asked.

Published on October 24, 2019

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