JNPT seeks bigger ships with completion of harbour deepening

TERMINALS at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) are encouraging their container carrier customers to deploy larger vessels to the port to take advantage of a recently completed harbour deepening

16 May 2019 - 19:00

TERMINALS at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) are encouraging their container carrier customers to deploy larger vessels to the port to take advantage of a recently completed harbour deepening.

The completion in February of the major dredging project increased the port's main channel from a draft of 14 metres to 15 metres, enabling JNPT to handle vessels of 12,500 TEU without tidal restrictions.

After the dredging work, DP World's Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal (NSIGT) recently docked the 9,200-TEU MSC Sindy with an alongside depth of 15.6 meters, touted as the deepest draft ship ever to have called at the port, IHS Media reported.

The 9,850-TEU nominal capacity has been deployed in MSC's joint India-Mediterranean (IMED) Service with CMA CGM and Cosco Shipping Lines. Officials said the terminal notched an impressive average crane rate of more than 32 moves per hour during the ship's 23-hour berth stay.

Carried out under a 2017 contract with a public outlay of about INR2,000 crore (US$288 million), the dredging project involved widening JNPT's main shipping channel from 370 metres to 450 metres and extending it from 33.5 km to 35.5 km, in order to match the required depth. The harbour dredging is of importance to a 4.8 million-TEU capacity terminal concession awarded to PSA International, the first phase of which opened to operations in February 2018.

PSA's Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT) handled 520,126 TEU in its first full year in operation, which ended 31 March, and throughput in April was up another 4.3 per cent from the previous month.

With two terminals, including the country's first privately built Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT), DP World has a significant foothold at JNPT, with its fiscal year 2018-19 combined throughput surging 15 per cent year over year to 1.5 million TEU. However, the company has lately been prioritising its newer investment, NSIGT, in a bid to sidestep tariff complications at NSICT.

As a result, NSIGT boasts a number of other 'firsts' to its credit at the port, such as the largest-ever container ship call at an Indian port, the 13,000-TEU MSC Cristina in April 2017; an advanced, optical character recognition (OCR) technology-based gate solution; and the successful handling of a complex, 110-tonne heavy-lift cargo operation a year ago.

The government is also considering other major initiatives to support the country's emerging containerised trade. Heeding appeals from local shipping-trade groups, a Ministry of Commerce-headed committee recently recommended that JNPT review and rework its vessel-related charges to a more competitive level.

A lower tariff scale can further propel government moves to lift the attractiveness of Indian ports as direct ports of call on the strength of a liberalised cabotage rule enacted a year ago. A previous study by global port design and consulting firm AECOM found that terminal handling charges and vessel-related costs at Cochin port were roughly 30 per cent higher than those at the port of Colombo, Sri Lanka. This is one major factor hampering DP World's efforts to build up a transshipment footprint for its flagship Vallarpadam Terminal at Cochin.

Anant Swarup, joint secretary at the Indian Ministry of Commerce & Industry, said the department is working on various measures to reduce logistics costs and that standardisation in pricing processes is vital to reaching that goal.


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