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After cars, it is the turn of the trucks to be transported by Sea from Chennai to Bangladesh

The Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari digitally flagged off a Ro-Ro cum general cargo vessel M.V. IDM DOODLE carrying a consignment of 185 trucks manufactured by Chennai based Auto Major Ashok Leyland from Chennai Port to Mongla Port in Bangladesh on October 28th..

Addressing the gathering which had assembled at Chennai portís wharf through video conferencing from the National capital Mr Gadkari said that the trucks, were being transported through the circuitous land route travelling a distance of 1500 Kilometers.  The sea route currently attempted by the auto major will save about 15-20 days of travel time.

For this trip alone that involves transport of 185 trucks, a total of about 3 lakh vehicle km of road travel will be saved as the land route is long and valuable time gets lost at the congested Petrapole-Benapole check point at the Indo- Bangladesh border. Besides saving time, coastal transport will also be more cost effective and environment friendly. The Minister called upon all automobile manufactures to use coastal shipping mode for transporting their vehicles.

The Chennai based Ashok Leyland Ltd is currently exporting around 12,000 truck chassis to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and some African Countries. The volume to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is likely to increase by 80 per cent in the coming years. Now, more than 500 trucks per month are expected to be exported through the sea route. This move will take away a lot of traffic away from roads.

The Coastal Shipping Agreement between India and Bangladesh was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modiís visit to that country in June 2015. Based on the bilateral Agreement, Sea transportation from Indian ports to Bangladesh ports is being treated as Coastal movement, making it eligible for 40 per cent concession on vessel related and cargo related charges in both the Ports.. For coastal movement through Ro-Ro vessels, 80 per cent concession on vessel related and cargo related charges are applicable in Indian Ports. All these will result in considerable savings in freight costs.

Chennai Port pioneered coastal Ro-Ro voyage way back in 2016 when 800 Hyundai cars were shipped on Ro-Ro vessels from Chennai to Pipava Port in Gujarat for distribution in Northern India.But the Coastal movement could not be sustained since there was no return cargo from Gujarat Ports to Southern India. The Ship Operator tried his best to rope in Maruti and other automobile units in Punjab but could not succeed.

Another attempt was made by Sical Industries, a Steamer Agent based in Chennai by pooling the cars manufactured in the city including Hyundai, Nissan, Daimler and Ford. The company chartered a vessel to carry these cars from Kamarajar port in Ennore close to Chennai to Ports in Gujarat. After two or three voyages, Sical also gave up the attempt saying that it was not a paying proposition. The company has however indicated that they would resume the service shortly.

Initiatives like this are aimed at providing innovative logistic chain solutions under Sagarmala. The ultimate objective is to save logistic costs and time of transportation and boosting trade by making Indian goods competitive in International markets.

The fuel consumption at per ton cargo is much lower in the sea route, so transportation by sea will also reduce carbon footprints on the environment. Further, the modal shift to coastal shipping will save wear and tear of the new vehicles and also reduce traffic on congested roads. 

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