Mumbai offshore container terminal project beset with obstacles galore
The commissioning of the offshore container terminal of the Mumbai port which has got rescheduled a few times may face further changes
Being the first and single largest container privatization project at the Mumbai Port, the ICT is being set up by Gammon India and Dragados S.P.L. (Dragados is one of the largest port operators of Spain and a part of the A.C.S. Group which is one of the largest infrastructure conglomerates in the world). The Project involves construction, financing, equipping, operations and management of the offshore container terminal, comprising at least two berths in the Mumbai Harbor on a Build Operate and Transfer basis. On completion will have the capacity to handle about 1 million TEUs at the offshore container facility.
Mukul Roy, Minister of State for Shipping, informed Parliament last week about the delay in the construction of the terminal which he attributed to hold-ups on the part of the build, operate and transfer (BOT) operator, dredging contractor and the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT).
Involving an investment of $ 300 million, the ICT project will raise the port capacity by 12 million tonnes. The first phase consisting of two berths is now expected to be completed by end of next year and the second phase to be taken up there after will add another berth thus putting in place a total quay length of 1050 meters with a handling capacity of 1.2 million TEUs annually. It will be capable of accommodating vessels of 6,000 TEUs.
The dredging has been taken up so that the ICT can accommodate and handle larger ships of 6,000 TEUs and above. The terminal will be 800 metres inside sea and the draft after completion will be about 14.5 meters deep. However the dredging work has been disrupted a number of times either because of shortage of dredgers and lack of co-ordination. Then there was the unfortunate vessel collisions that led to dredging work getting stalled and impacting the entire project as a chain reaction. Last year, it was Khalijia and MSC Chitra, and this year, the merchant ship MV Nordlake collided with an Indian naval vessel, hindering work.According to shipping circles there are other hurdles in the way, the major one being the lack of good connectivity. They wonder how the operator will ensures swift evacuation of containers from the terminal and bring in containers for export. The whole project was earlier conceived with the idea of moving containers by rail. But Mumbai being a city port the railways give preference to passenger trains over that of freight trains. The roads too are congested in the city with several sky walks coming in the way making it difficult for smooth movement of container traffic. An elevated road being constructed will allow movement only part of the way to the outskirts of the city but there after the container movement will have to overcome the snarled traffic which is a frequent occurrence even on the highway.