Coastal cargo service from Jan.

Ports Dept mulls introducing vessels linking Kollam, Kochi, and Beypore

December 16, 2021 11:22 pm | Updated December 17, 2021 08:45 am IST - KOCHI

The success of the coastal container movement from the Kochi port to the Beypore and Azheekkal ports, introduced in the first week of July this year, has encouraged the State Ports Department to consider introduction of a new coastal service linking Kollam, Kochi, and Beypore in January next year.

V.J. Mathew, Chairman of the Kerala Maritime Board, said on Thursday that the present service linking Kochi and Beypore had completed 35 voyages. Discussions to finalise the new service would be held in Kochi on December 21. The present coastal voyages carry an average of 50 containers each and the vessel, now linking the ports on the coastal route, has 100 TEU capacity.

Munshid Ali, honorary secretary of the Kerala Exporters’ Forum, said the coastal movement had livened up the cargo transport scene. Around 400 containers are moved via the coastal route to Beypore and Azheekkal from Kochi on a monthly basis. The exporters’ forum has now taken an initiative to arrange a meeting with Ports Minister Ahammad Devarkovil in Kozhikode on Saturday. The meeting will be attended by stakeholders in the sector, including vessel operators, port management representatives, industrialists, traders and those others in the export-import business, he said.

One of the encouraging development for those calling for developing the coastal movement of cargo was the recent export of 28 containers of plywood from Kannur to Malayasia from Azheekkal via Kochi. The increasing volumes on the coastal route have resulted in more enquiries and transport of consignments such as rice from Andhra Pradesh and cement is now under consideration by stakeholders.

There are two voyages a week and though each voyage takes about a day to reach Beypore, the lack of sufficient draft is a problem that forces the vessels to wait for high tide before entering the port area. Dredging of the port to achieve the required draft is one of the key issues that will be discussed at Saturday's meeting.

In a memorandum submitted to the Ports Minister earlier this year, the exporters’ forum had appealed to the government to take steps to increase the draft at the port. One of the problems associated with dredging in Beypore is related to deposing of the dredged material. However, a solution has been found to address the problem, Mr. Ali said.

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