Sagar Sandesh: Recently KrishnapatnamPort has successfully diverted transshipment cargo from Singapore. Chennai port is all set to commence transshipment of containers from both their terminals. Govt had also announced some concessions permitting foreign ships to handle coastal cargo. How do you see these experiments leading to?
Capt Achanta Sivakumar: Allowing foreign flag vessels to carry EXIM cargo on coastal routes is a bold move, but that alone is not enough, without considering other aspects ( sops to coastal shipping, reviewing terminal tariffs etc, ) as specified by me, above.
SS: Not long ago, Chennai port was the only facility for entire South India. Now there three ports around the city competing for cargo from the same hinterland. How is the competition from the private ports impact the prospects of Chennai Port. The port is already feeling the pinch with many liner vessels skipping the port. Can Chennai port diversify its operations? If so what are the areas they can go into? ? Can bunkering and cruise shipping an option for the Port?
CAS: Unless manufacturing revives in Southern and Eastern INDIA, the ports will not have enough cargo to flourish. For manufacturing to do well, the governments (Both state and central) must create enabling framework, and infrastructure.
SS: The Manufacturing industry is situated in northern and central parts of the country. The concentration of industries in this area is likely to increase with the commissioning of Western and Eastern Dedicated Rail Freight Corridor. The Corridors planned in the South have no railway component. What are the steps to be taken to improve the freight movement to the East coast Ports? Is there a need for a dedicated rail freight corridor from Delhi to Chennai and from Mumbai to Chennai or whether the industrialization of the Southern states alone is the answer? If you say industrialization alone is the answer, it is like chicken and egg story-better infra leads to industry. Which should start industry or infra?
Dedicated rail corridor (Representational image)
CAS: A Good government consults the industry, takes them on board along with commitments, before creating infrastructure (rail or road, or dedicated corridor). The era of government knows it all, does not exist any-more. Unfortunately, both state and central governments pay lip service to industry consultations before planning infrastructure.
SS: The Direct Port Delivery of imports and Direct Port Entry of exports are gaining ground in most of the major ports, what do you think is the future of Container Freight Terminals and Inland Container Depots? Do they have to change their business plans like entering into Ware housing and Cold-Storage?
DPD and DPE to reduce both truck congestion and dwell times
CAS: The DPD/DPE mechanisms are game changers. Unless the CFS operators change their business strategy, and evolve continuously, the Container Freight Station Operators may cease to exist, in their current form, in coming years.
SS: How is the evacuation problem in the Chennai port? Has it improved after commissioning of EMRIP? The resumption of work on the Chennai port Maduravoyal Elevated Corridor is taking its own time though the state government had cleared the proposal more than a year ago. How is the delay affecting the functioning of the two container terminals in Chennai Port?
CAS: For over 10 years, Tamil Nadu has not had a government which focuses on infrastructure development, job creation, manufacturing etc. All that the government did was to obstruct any development projects, for political reasons. The people should elect governments that look into the future and plan for at least 20 years ahead.
SS: Besides the Elevated corridor other projects like creating a Satellite port at Puducherry, Multi Modal logistics part at Jolarpettai are being planned to decongest the Chennai port. When all these projects take off in another 2 or three years, can Chennai port say good bye to congestion?
CAS: There is no cargo, there is no congestion. If there is any congestion, it is surely man-made, or politically instigated, or, due to labor issues and other law and order issues. Otherwise, CHENNAI port should not have any congestion in near future.