Logistics

‘Willingdon Island will reinvent itself to stay on top'

V. Sajeev Kumar | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on March 20, 2011

Mr Paul Antony, Chairman, Cochin Port Trust.   -  The Hindu

To attract more business the port is working with various stakeholders to ensure optimum utilisation of facilities for all port-related activities.

There's good news yet for Kochi's Willingdon Island, the location of Kochi Port, even as it fears losing its importance after container operations recently shifted to the newly commissioned Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT). The port's new Chairman, Mr Paul Antony, has asserted that Willingdon Island will remain a vibrant hub of maritime trade.

A senior Kerala cadre IAS officer, Mr Antony is thinking of ways to “rejuvenate” the port and ensure business grows with renewed vigour. The top priority is to attract bulk cargo in order to sustain the port and make it more competitive, he says.

He told Business Line that the port is working with various stakeholders, government departments, trade unions as well as port users to ensure optimum utilisation of facilities for all port-related activities to help attract business. “We have to reinvent ourselves to regain the past glory of Willingdon Island, for the future of the port,” Mr Antony says.

Upcoming projects

“However, my immediate priority is to carry forward the assurances given to terminal operator DP World, as per the contractual agreement, in making available draught of 14.5 metres in the ICTT berth basin to handle large-size container vessels and also alleviate the concerns of the trade due to the initial confusion at the terminal.

The port, on the other hand, has a handful of projects such as LNG Terminal, Multi User Liquid Terminal, cruise terminal etc., and my intention is to ensure these projects are commissioned in a time-bound manner.”

According to him, Willingdon Island has potential for many port-related activities besides the bulk cargo business. The Ernakulam wharf — with 12.5 metre draught and adequate backup space with covered area and rail lines — can attract bulk cargoes such as food grains, scrap, timber, sand, coal and so on from the hinterland. However, bulk cargo-related development activities have been hampered after the Navy objected to the erection of tall cranes. Following recent discussions with naval authorities, the two sides have mutually agreed to set up a hotline facility to inform each other on the requirement of lowering and rising of cranes in the wharf, he said. The opening of tenders for the proposed Multi User Liquid Terminal project has been postponed by a month after bidders requested clarity on the issue of Minimum Alternate Tax.

The terminal will enable the port to provide bunkering services to ocean-going ships at rates that are competitive to foreign ports, especially with the Kerala Government's decision to allow 0.5 per cent VAT rates on bunker charges.

POWER PLANT

The port is also in discussion with the Government for allotment of 56 acres to the LNG Terminal to set up a 1,200 MW power plant at Puthuvypeen. Likewise, the IOC is working on its LPG import facility at Puthuvypeen, which will be commissioned within a year. The port's finances are expected to improve after these projects are commissioned, over the next 2-3 years.

Meanwhile, the Kerala Tourism Department has agreed to collaborate with the port to set up a terminal for cruise ships and turn Kochi into a “home porting port”. The port has submitted to the Government a cost estimate for the creation of facilities at the BTP jetty for Customs inspection and other formalities.

Master Plan

Under the Master Plan for Willingdon Island, an initiative of the Shipping Ministry, the northern side of Willingdon Island will be developed for port-related activities and the southern side for business districts. There are plans to lease out 56 acres opposite the Vallarpadam terminal as three separate plots for setting up CFS and Logistics parks. The port has made a presentation before the Ministry and shortlisted the consultants.

There is a need to increase the number of container freight stations — currently there are just 3-4 — within the ICTT to ensure smooth conduct of business at the terminal.

On the issue of dredging, Mr Antony said the port has approached the Ministry for funds to maintain dredging operations on the lines of Kolkata Port, which is entirely Government funded. This year, the port has decided to go for a three-year maintenance dredging arrangement to help reduce costs, he said

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Published on March 20, 2011
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