Cochin Port Trust will take over the operations of the pre-stage facility for examination and clearance of export containers after the operations of the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal (RGCT) is shifted to its new site at Vallarpadam Island later this year.

The pre-stage facility is a one-stop clearance point where container cargo is received and documentation and Customs procedures are completed so that the containers are ready to enter the terminal. The pre-stage facility helps avoid congestion at the terminal gates.

Sources said that the Board of Trustees of the port at its last meeting approved the proposal to take over the facility, now functioning on a 2.5 acre plot on the south end of Willingdon Island, to be managed jointly by the Port trust and Cochin Customs House Agents' Association (CCHAA). As a prelude to the take over, the Port Trust is expected to submit a tariff proposal to the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) based on the fee currently being charged by India Gateway Terminals Limited (IGTL), which is operating RGCT and also the pre-stage facility.

Taking over of the pre-stage facility becomes essential because container operations on Vallarpadam Island will take place from a Special Economic Zone. This necessitates that Domestic Tariff Area (DTA) cargo will have to be cleared outside ICTT, which could be a container freight station, an inland container depot or even a pre-stage facility.

The proposal, which is before the port's trustees, observed that though there were initiatives to set up new freight stations and container depots, the current shortage of such facilities in the vicinity of ICTT held great prospects for drawing cargo to the Willingdon Island even after the box operations are shifted to its new location.

The availability of storage space at Willingdon Island and the introduction of Roll-On-Roll-Off and Lift-On-Lift-Off services by the port with Inland Waterways Authority of India will help attract cargo, the proposal added.

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