The two private container terminals of Chennai
Port can heave a sigh of relief that the severe obstructions in the last mile
connectivity at the lone entrance cum exit gate of the port will become history
when a 450 meter stretch of road cleared off all encroachments will be
available for movement in the next six months.
The twenty year old project to provide a
dedicated lane for container trucks operating from Chennai port will become
fully operational when the National Highways authority of India completes the
last stretch of merely laying roads on four hundred meters in the next six
The politically well connected fishermen group
has been holding the port authorities to ransom by declining the remove the
encroachment in 400 meters of port land at the fishing harbor close to the
entrance of Chennai port for the past several years.
The Jayalalitha government added to the woes of
the Chennai port by blocking the Elevated Corridor project from the Port to
Maduravoyal for the past five years.
With the non completion of both the infra
projects, Chennai port has become the worst victim and containers have shifted
to neighboring ports. A leading container operator has shifted his base from
Chennai to Kamarajar Port in nearby Ennore six months ago citing problems at
the entrance of Chennai port.
Work to widen the final 450- m stretch of the
Ennore-Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP) inside the fishing harbor has
begun last week after an inordinate delay.
The foundation stone for the Rs 600-crore project
to provide connectivity to ports in Ennore and Chennai by widening four roads
in north Chennai was laid in 2011. The project was announced way back in 1998. Thus it has taken 21 years to complete a
crucial connectivity project for Chennai port.
The Chennai port took some time to hand over the
final stretch that passes through fish shops and fish drying areas as they had
to provide alternative space for fishers.
The fishing harbor is under the control of the
port and Ennore Expressway provides final connectivity to the Chennai port via
the road running through the fishing harbor.
Sources in the National Highways Authority of
India (NHAI), which has widened the roads — Tiruvottiyur- Ponneri-Panchetty
Road, Manali Oil Refinery Road, Ennore Expressway and the northern sector of
the Inner Ring Road — said the work will take six months to complete. “We were
waiting for the land to be handed over to us. The present road inside is very narrow
and needs widening.
Thousands of trailer trucks take these roads on a
daily basis to reach the Chennai port. They line up on the roads, waiting for
entry passes to the port due to lack of space inside.
Meanwhile, amid protests by residents and truckers,
tolling for the traffic passing through the expressway began last month.
After having blocked the expressway project for
nearly two decades, residents of north Chennai are now up in arms against
collection of a toll though a facility has been provided for dedicated lanes
for passenger and container traffic from the Port.
Residents of North Chennai had blocked the
Chennai port’s main bread winner, handling of coal traffic by the Port by
citing pollution. A port official said they would ensure that both EMRIP and
dedicated corridor projects are delayed indefinitely and by the time they are
completed the container traffic would have shifted to other ports. In that case
the connectivity projects will remain a monument for the Chennai Port.