The relaxation of cabotage law for container ships by the Indian government has come as a precursor to the launch of D. P. World’s International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) and this will help pave the way for expeditious evacuation of transshipped containers that land there. The Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the ICTT based in Cochin in South India on 11 February 2011 making it the country’s first container transshipment hub.
The commissioning had to be rescheduled a few times the last being as a result of the delay in completing the dredging of the Cochin port for deepening the channel. Once it picks up pace, the ICTT will revolutionize India’s international trade as nearly 4 million TEUs get transshipped through Colombo, Jebel Ali and Salalah, Singapore and Malaysian ports and these could come directly to India through ICTT. The Indian goods will greatly benefit from this as it will help lower the cost of transportation making them lot more competitive overseas.
Capt M. M. Saggi, the Nautical Advisor to the Government of India said, “The reason for the relaxation is that there are very few Indian container vessels available for feeder and coastal operations. Of course once more Indian ships get into the trade then this facility will be withdrawn.”
The Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA) is opposed to allowing foreign vessels from operating in Indian waters had been representing strongly with the government against cabotage relaxation. Two years back INSA had also opposed the move by American Eagle Tankers (AET) from flagging in their single hull tanker to operate on the Indian coast even though the government welcomes 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI). But this got over-ruled by the government.
Former chairman of Mormugao Port Trust and chairman in-charge of Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Dr Jose Paul responded, “With the relaxation of Cabotage law, the monopoly hitherto enjoyed by domestic container lines will go and both the foreign and domestic container shipping lines will canvass for cargo for movement along the East and West coasts of India. As the fresh air of competition enters this sector, the quality, frequency, service reliability and speed of delivery will improve significantly resulting in a substantial reduction in freight rates.
The ship-to-shore cranes being commissioned at ICTT have the capacity to handle 65 tonnes under the spreader. The boom has an outreach of 56 meters enabling it to serve the largest vessels, carrying 22 containers across the deck, comparable with any modern container terminal of the world. Fitted with numerous safety devices and sensors, the cranes ensure high productivity and safe working conditions. The four twin-lift quay cranes will be complemented by the 15 rubber tyred gantry cranes (RTGs).