The port decides to offer a slew of incentives to boost the sagging morale of operators

Cargo handling at Visakhapatnam port, one of the premier ports in the country, is hit hard due to rupee slide and falling intake of iron ore by China as well as diversion of various commodities to Krishnapatnam and Gangavaram.

Alarmed by the number of factors denting its traffic, the port authorities at a recent board meeting decided to unveil a slew of incentives to bolster the sagging morale of ship liners and cargo handling operators.

Highly places sources have told The Hindu that some of the leading operators handling containers have threatened in writing to the port officials that they will be forced to divert traffic to Krishnapatnam Port as it is offering hefty discounts. Gangavaram Port, which is investing Rs.1200 crore on its second phase of expansion to raise its capacity from 17-18 million tonne to 45 million tonne by March, 2014, is also snatching away a part of cargo due to be handled by Visakhapatnam port due its locational advantage. Gangavaram Port is located in the backyard of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Container business

“We are seriously considering offering concessions to our users to not only retain our traffic but also to attract new cargo as part of our aggressive marketing strategy. Ongoing expansion work has also had its toll on our traffic,” says a senior official of Visakhapatnam Port Trust.

Gangavaram Port is also said to be developing facilities to foray into container business.

The Ministry of Shipping has set a target of 70 million tonne for Visakhapatnam port this year.

The management has said from the beginning that it is very difficult to achieve. The port secured third position by handling 59.04 million tonne during the last fiscal. As of today, the port could handle 26.5 million tonne, a shortfall of one million tonne over the traffic handled during the corresponding period last year.

As on August 15, the port could clock 20 million tonne as against 21 million tonne handled during the corresponding period last year. Rupee slide has an adverse impact on imports particularly on coking and thermal coal.

There is also slump in transhipment cargo – crude imports by Very Large Carrier Vessels.

The port is investing Rs.4,500 crore – a lion’s share of which is on capacity augmentation – in Public-Private Partnership mode.

Port officials are confident of increasing their capacity from existing 65 million tonne to 110 million tonne per annum by 2015-16.

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