Pseudo Congestion at Indian ports
Ships carrying project and over dimensional cargo are made to wait for days together at some of the Indian ports before they are allowed to berth. This is common at Kandla, Mumbai and Adani Dahej ports according to heavy lift and projects forwarders. Happening at a time when cargo throughput at Indian ports has been on the wane this is being considered to be pseudo congestion.According to information made available by Sai Maritime & Management, one of the heavy lift vessel operators, who has ships calling regularly at Indian ports the congestion position as of 24 December 2012 was specially grave at Kandla port. The berthing delay it reported under normal export group is 18 to 20 days. For import ships under normal group is 14 to 16 days and for 24 hrs priority vessel approx 4 days.
In Mumbai Port the Harbor wall berths / BPX berth a berthing delay of 5 to 7 days was considered normal. The situation could worsen as dredging at Harbor wall berth will begin from 10 of Jan and go on till 25 Jan. Whereas, Haldia port is congested and a waiting time of 3 to 4 days could be expected as space problems always remains a big concern. For Adani Dahej port the waiting time is about 12 to 14 days and there is news about more delays in future as the North Berth is kept vacant for maintenance and dredging. At Tuticorin, Vizag and Chennai the situation is much better and berthing delays are only of about one to two days. Operators prefer to use other ports including private ports where no delay is being experienced.
Janesh Gulati, Executive Director, BOXCO Logistics India Pvt.Ltd., elucidates, “This congestion is responsible for increasing operating costs by 15% to 30% or even more. Major ports run by the Federal government do not give priority to heavy lift and project cargo because the government is focused on the present scenario and not on future development. Fertilizer considered important for agriculture, coal necessary for power generation or even food grain get priority. Ports do not see the importance of project cargo since it is related to something for future infrastructural development.
Of course, ports justify the reason for sidelining heavy lift vessels as being their turnaround time that extends from three to five days compared to bulk and container cargo vessels which is just a few hours. Though the situation at some of the other major ports is somewhat better they suffer from a tremendous dearth of storage facility.
As an alternative there are several private ports in the vicinity of the major ports, but discharging cargo in those ports turns out to be very expensive and the consignees end up paying more than three times what they would normally spend to get their cargo through a major government run port. At private ports, consignees are confronted with many additional charges for storage, stevedoring, royalty, demurrage, handling charges, etc. All these charges are levied even though the port may not handle any part of the cargo. When it comes to project cargo, ports calculate the waiting period which results in the cost going up exorbitantly.