A ship carrying a consignment of sand from Gujarat arrived at the new cargo wharf at Vizhinjam near here on Thursday morning.

The ship Nand - Ichapur was chartered by J-Sky Shipping and Aviation Services, a private firm. The vessel, loaded with 2,200 tonnes of river sand for the construction industry in the State, started its voyage from the Kandla port in Gujarat a week back.

A spokesman for the company said the sand, approved by the Mining and Geology Department, would be sold in the retail market after transporting it to its yard near the airport.

He said it would be sold at a price about 50 per cent less than the prevailing market price. In December, the company had offloaded a consignment of sand at the Thankassery port in Kollam district.

A mobile crane equipped with a grab was brought to the wharf to unload the sand from the ship's holds. The spokesman said the unloading was expected to be completed in a day.

“We have received enquiries from several places. The final price will be worked out later,” he said.

The arrival of the ship coincided with the formal inauguration of the wharf on Thursday morning. Minister for Ports M.Vijayakumar, who carried out the inauguration, and Fisheries Minister S.Sarma, who presided over the function, welcomed the ship and its crew. They also visited the ship and went round the cabin and hold.

Company officials said they had to incur additional expense in offloading the consignment here because of the absence of unloading facilities.

They said efforts were on to bring consignments every month to Thiruvananthapuram. Asked whether they would offer the sand at concessional rate for mass housing schemes, the officials said it was up to the government to take up the issue with them.