Kochi port gears up for more ship calls

V Sajeev Kumar | Updated on August 08, 2021

Looking ahead: The opening up of the anchorage to all ancillary ship services will benefit Kochi   -  The Hindu/THULASI KAKKAT

Anchorage development to hike revenue

Cochin Port Trust’s move to develop its outer anchorage as a hub for ship ancillary services has gained traction with the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways forming a committee to examine the proposal and submit a report within three months.

The plan was discussed during the ‘Chintan Bhaitak’ organised by the Ministry in Gujarat a few months ago while deliberating the development of major ports as a hub for shipping services. Services that ships require apart from cargo/passenger operations are bunkers, crew change, supply of fresh water, lubricants, spare parts, fuel, hull/propeller cleaning, cold lay up of vessels during downturn in the industry and so on.

Kochi can be a successful hub as it is located at the south-west end of Indian peninsula, almost in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A good portion of the world’s shipping passes within 100 miles of the port eastbound and westbound. The proximity to the main trade lane lends an opportunity to the port trust to provide services to ships in the course of their voyage with little or no loss of income due to the lesser deviation time, informed sources said.

The best example of the concept is the Singapore Port which has the shipping lane passing through its backyard and has used that advantage to the fullest by developing itself as a major port despite being such a small country. The port propelled Singapore to develop other related industries and transform into what it is today. Ports such as Fujairah, Port Said/Suez, Panama, Gibraltar, Colombo, Djibouti and Aden have used location to their advantage.

The opening up of the anchorage to all ancillary ship services will benefit Kochi and could result in the port getting the most ship calls among all the ports in India, after including the anchorage calls, the sources said.

The thrust of the proposal is to leverage the port’s anchorage to woo ships requiring services and get some of those translated into actual port calls and later to also include charges to generate direct revenue from the anchorage.

Besides, the expansion of Cochin Shipyard and its development of maritime clusters here will help ensure the availability of specialised agencies for ship services.

In close to 16 months since its anchorage was opened for crew change from April 15, 2020, some 700 ships have changed over 16,500 crew members. This is almost half the total number of ships that call Cochin Port in a year and this for crew change alone.

Shipping companies are waiting for the hub services to start, the sources said adding that the project does not require major change in regulation or any major investment or capital expenditure by the port or the government.

The benefits to the port will be realised only after the services are well established which will take three to five years and should translate into increased business to the port both from more ship calls as well as anchorage charges with the added benefit of employment generation in the region.

Published on August 08, 2021

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