MUMBAI's Jawaharal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has moved into an era of mega-ship calls on the back of a deeper channel and is on its way to achieving a new record in container volume during the current fiscal year ending March 31.
The latest port figures collected by IHS Media, which account for 60 per cent of India's total containerised ocean cargo, handled 4.45 million TEU from April 2015 until March 29, edging up 0.7 per cent from 4.42 million TEU during the corresponding period the prior fiscal year.
That growth trend should allow India's busiest container handler to go past its last fiscal year's all-time throughput high of 4.47 million TEU.
There would have been faster growth and higher cargo volume if the port hadn't faced intermittent slowdowns brought on by labour troubles and other infrastructure bottlenecks, especially on the landside.
While congestion has largely eased and truck turn times have improved, much still needs to be done to stay ahead of trade growth and meet rising competition from privately operated Mundra.
Mega ships calls will place a tremendous strain on the landside infrastructure, as volume surges have often led to gate closures at terminals.
"Yard and gate infrastructure is required to work in tandem with the berth, supporting a seamless flow of traffic from berth to gate. Hence, potential bottlenecks at yard and gate should be addressed to support the increased productivity at the berth," said global port design and consulting firm AECOM.
The consulting firm has recommended that the port administration consider allocating more yard space to APM Terminals-operated Gateway Terminals India, which loads nearly 40 per cent of JNPT's total volume.
On the railside, the port has lined up a INR2 billion (US$30 million) investment in the development of an "integrated common rail yard" for all terminals in the complex.
This is one of several port development projects that government authorities are looking to showcase at a three-day maritime investment summit scheduled to start April 14 in Mumbai.