Following the diversion of ships, Kochi has been able to convert adverse situations into opportunities. The congestion at Colombo Port has turned out to be a hidden opportunity for Kochi, at least in terms of gaining transshipment business.
Following the diversion of MSC Lines to Kochi, the International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam has started receiving additional mainline ships on ad hoc basis with transshipment volumes. The rising number of COVID cases among port workers in Colombo, has aggravated the existing congestion in that port.
Besides Kochi, Kamrajar Port near Chennai has also received one mainline vessel from Colombo with transshipment cargo, highly placed sources in the shipping fraternity said.
The pandemic condition has not yet improved and coupled with an earlier strike by workers at Colombo, it has aggravated the situation by resulting in the delay in turnaround of many mainline vessels prompting them to look at alternatives, the sources said.
Cochin Port Trust received the first vessel MSC Stella on November 7, followed by MSC Qindao (November 9) and Anton Schulte (November 11) and ER Yukohama (November 14) Calls for two more vessels during this month have been finalised. Discussions are still on for bringing more vessels.
So far, Kochi has handled about 2,856 teus (Twenty-foot equivalent units) of foreign transshipment containers. The anchoring of these vessels has translated into a revenue-earning of INR 2 crore by way of vessel related charges apart from 33.3 per cent of revenue sharing from the terminal operator DP World, informed sources.
Spike in Volumes
The terminal has been seeing a steady rise in its transshipment volumes due to diversion of vessel calls from Colombo, said Praveen Joseph, CEO, DP World Kochi.
These transshipment cargoes from MSC’s trans-continental services are to destinations such as Beira (Mozambique), Mersin (Turkey).
Mr Joseph, while speaking to the media, said that the terminal has clocked a 16 per cent rise in transshipment volumes in the first 10 months of 2020.
“The handling of these mainline vessels will definitely boost Kochi’s image in wooing transshipment cargoes especially at a time when the port is positioning itself as a transshipment hub of India to reduce the dependency on foreign ports for transshipment of Indian cargo”.~M Beena, Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust
During the harrowing period of Covid-19, box traffic was down by five per cent. However, the traffic has started picking up after the easing of lockdown, reporting an all-time high monthly traffic of 62,472 teus in September, port officials said.