Visakhapatnam Port has much to cheer as it has continually surpassed its own record in cargo handling. In a first, it handled more than 50 million tonnes (MT) of cargo in 228 days during the current financial year.

With this record achieved on November 15, it surpassed its previous record of handling the same volume in 251 days last year.

The fresh milestone has come as a shot in the arm for Visakhapatnam Port Authority’s (VPA) ongoing efforts to develop the port.

“We have recorded 50 MT cargo throughput in the shortest time... There is good growth and we want to diversify our cargo and (implement) mechanised measures to improve it further,” says Madhaiyan Angamuthu, Chairperson, VPA.

The latest 50-MT record is the fastest in the port’s 90-year history. The achievement was not an easy one and owes to a slew of measures undertaken by the port authority.

The VPA chief credits multiple drivers for the record performance.

“Container volumes have increased due to new lines calling at the port. Moreover, crude oil imports have increased due to capacity expansion of HPCL’s refinery,” he said.

Additional factors include handling of imported bauxite received in capesize vessels, handling of baby capesize vessels at the VPA inner harbour by relaxing navigational restrictions, an increase in coking coal and manganese ore imports, and growth in coastal iron ore shipments.

Bid for more volumes

VPA, however, is not content to rest on its laurels and has initiated measures to further ramp up volumes. “We have taken up extensive marketing measures. GRT-based [gross register tonnage] concessions are being offered to container vessels. Concessions are also offered on land licence fee during the stacking of exim cargo,” Angamuthu said.

In addition, the cargo handling labour charges have been rationalised through levy of cost on per tonne basis.

At the current run rate, cargo handling by the port could touch 80 MT during financial year 2023-24. The port’s 31 berths handled 73.75 MT cargo in FY23 and reported revenue of ₹2,000 crore.

VPA wants to adopt a business plan that facilitates augmentation of new cargoes and product range for export and import.

In line with the Maritime India Vision 2030, the port has synergies to further improve public-private partnership (PPP) projects, mechanisation of berths, speeding up the evacuation of cargoes, and so on, Angamuthu said.

Visakhapatnam port is transitioning to the landlord port model, where private players take over the operational aspects of the business while the port acts as regulator and landlord. This move is intended to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

By 2030, it will be a 100 per cent landlord port with mechanisation and state-of-the-art cargo evacuation system,” Angamuthu said.

The port recently commissioned an international cruise terminal in a bid to position Visakhapatnam as a prominent stopover for cruise ships, given the city’s natural beauty, pristine beaches, historical sites, and cultural attractions.