Santosh Patnaik

VISAKHAPATNAM: With the Kandla port surging ahead of the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT), which was attempting to retain its premier port status for the eighth time in a row, now it is the time for the VPT management to adopt innovative strategies to face bigger challenges ahead.The loss of the status should not give scope for wastage of time over ‘ifs and buts’. Instead, it should swing into action immediately by speeding up its efforts for world-class facilities – efficient cargo handling with cost effective charges. Locked up in an intense competition from major ports like Kandla, Kolkata-Haldia and Chennai, VPT has bigger challenges ahead. The Gangavaram Port Limited is getting ready to commission its first phase by throwing open five berths to traffic in a few months. Minor ports like Kakinada, Gopalpur and Paradip have also stepped up efforts to lure some traffic from VPT.

Impressive growth rate

The just concluded financial year saw handling of 64.89 million tonnes by Kandla and 64.60 million tonnes by VPT.

During 2006-07, VPT retained its premier port status for seventh time with a throughput of 56.39 million tonnes followed by Kolkata-Haldia 55.05, Chennai 53.41, Kandla 52.98 and Mumbai 52.36.

Though all the major ports were benefited with tremendous boom in the economy during past few years, Kandla could improve its performance significantly with meticulous planning. During first half, it could get 30.69 million tonnes as against 30.61 by VPT, accounting for a growth rate of 29.69 per cent.

VPT’s growth rate during the same period was only 16.93 per cent.

During first quarter, VPT’s growth rate was 18 per cent as against Kandla’s 38.8 per cent. Massive investment in augmenting infrastructure, involvement of BOT partners in big way, the offer of discount in tariff and mainly its success in getting record quantity of dry cargo like fertilizer helped it (Kandla) to make the difference.