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“Coastal Shipment Will Bring Twin Advantages,” Says Kakinada Sea Ports COO Muralidhar

Chennai:

Port Wings News Network:

From the port sector, we are focusing to enhance co-efficient in ‘Coastal Shipment’ mainly will bring twin advantages of reduced costs and bringing coastal ports into proximity and releasing pressure on Rail & Road systems, which can be used for alternate sources of economy and facilitate passenger services, said Mr. M.Muralidhar, Chief Operating Officer, Kakinada Sea Ports Ltd.

In an exclusive interview to Port Wings, Mr Muralidhar, said, “But by and large, still the evacuation mode is based on Indian Railways which have exclusive opportunity. This gives Railways a unique advantage to decide tariffs based on their ideology which sometimes differs with ‘Unique Selling Proposals’ of Ports which is a debatable point.”

Excerpts of the interview…

Q: Tell us about the background and Kakinada Port?

M Muralidhar: “Historically Kakinada operating with Anchorage port since last 150 years plying with barges to load mid-sea anchored vessels. Government of Andhra Pradesh kick started the development of Kakinada Deep Water Port in 1987 & completed by 1997 with the support from Asian Development Bank to develop Berths -3 Nos (610Meters) Artificial breakwater of 1020 meters, and Navigational channel of 6.0 Kms with depth of 9.5 meters allowing ships to call with 20,000DWT.”

“In line with GOI policy to develop privatized ports either Brown field or Green field ports across the country was adopted by Govt of Andhra Pradesh. AP Government has finalised global tender for privatation and awarded concession to Kakinada Seaports Ltd in 1999 under Maintain-Built- Operate & share transfer of KDWP.”

“Incidentally Kakinada Seaports Ltd is the first operating private port of KDWP in Govt of Andhra Pradesh in 1999. By 2018, KDWP developed & progressed by bounds and leaps with the vision of management of KSPL and reached with multi-dimensional operating facilities – Berths (Main berth–7 berths – 1910 Meters), Multipurpose berths (4 berths – 780 Meters), Offshore supply vessels berths (6 berths), Floating Dry dock & Afloat ship repair facilities at port with navigation channel –12 Kms with 15.00 Meters Draft.”

“KDWP operates permitting fully loaded Panamax and Cape size vessels compatibility with vessels upto LOA: 295 meters, Beam: 45 meters & Draft -14.5 meters. KDWP boats of many mechanised handling facilities with — Coal conveyor systems, Fertilizer conveyor systems & Alumina conveyor systems.”

“Offshore supply vessels base facility-port serves standalone facilities for offshore oil and gas exploration activities in Krishna- Godavari basin by operators ONGC, RIL , cairn , etc”

Kakinada Container Terminal

“Container Terminal – Kakinada Container Terminal is located in East India’s agricultural & commodity hinterland which exports containerable products like rice sugar maize seafood and paper products. A Special Economic Zone set up by GMR group is just located 25 KM away from this terminal .The other advantage of this terminal that closest to an Amaravati – the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. Presently, Maersk , MSC , BLPL and Maxicon Lines are operating and connecting to across the globe via Colombo by feeder vessel which is being called on weekly every Tuesday by Far shipping.”

“Apart from, a coastal service to Cochin and Port Blair is being called by Shreyas and TCI Seaways respectively on monthly. BLPL is calling a direct service to Yangon on demand. Many new investments are in line up as per state government sources.”

Q.As a Container Terminal In-charge, how do you see the growth of private ports over the years?

MM: “Private ports are having bright future & opening new challenges and shall surpass business volumes over Major ports and emerge as gateways for customer centric business models. Though a tough competition has been from Major ports on tariff, the private port can still compete with them by augmenting productivity.”

How does Maritime sector, which is a niche area, evolved over the years?

MM: “The Maritime sector of Ports emerged as competing two arms between Major Ports and Private ports leading the Export/Import commerce driven with ideology riding the infrastructure facilities at ports to deliver tailor made solutions with competing tariffs. KDWP emerged as Multiproduct port facilities with tailor made solutions to meet customer needs. The need of the day and way ahead over the years is the solution through ‘Multi-modal transport services’. This paves way for the huge infrastructure facilities developed over the port sector can leverage dispatching multimodal services to optimize solutions to meet customer needs.”

Given the huge demand for best facility for cargo evacuation, what are the opportunities available for ports/terminals to garner captive cargo?

MM: “From the port sector we are focusing to enhance co-efficient in ‘Coastal Shipment’ mainly will bring twin advantages of reduced costs and bringing coastal ports into proximity and releasing pressure on Rail & Road systems which can be used for alternate sources of economy and facilitate passenger services. But by and large still the evacuation mode is based on Indian Railways which have exclusive opportunity. This gives Railways a unique advantage to decide tariffs based on their ideology which sometimes differs with ‘Unique Selling Proposals’ of Ports which is a debatable point. Should the policy  to decide connecting hinterland industries to closest Port as gateway will open huge opportunities in  ‘Coastal Shipments’ and also result in long haulages of rail & road saving fuel and carbon footprint.”

What is the current status of cargo segment moving via East Coast to various countries?

MM: “The Port is positioned with vibrant facilities to compete with shipments Coastal or Exim cargoes East or West. The port is ideally located at the rice bowl of India and other agri-commodity as well. KDWP is well poised to serve the commerce going towards West, especially Colombo-Andamans- Bangladesh – Myanmar & Singapore. At our port, we are looking towards the promising sectors of Food grains- Rice, maize, Aqua products- Fish & shrimp, Sugar, paper industry, and Granite industry has huge potential connecting to Far East destinations.”

How do you see the growing challenge to Indian port sector from private ports?

MM: “Across the sector, all ports have established huge infrastructure capacities presently operating at 50-60% operating levels and have huge opportunities to serve industry in coming years. The major  challenges are still in road & rail connectivity areas, And, the wish to establish ‘Dedicated Freight Corridor, and North – South/East-West pipe line connectivity’s area long way to realize.”

What is your expectation from the Government of India/ State Government to improve quality of maritime trade in the country (like tax relaxation/cabotage)?

MM: “Ports to be declared as EXIM transit areas and minimize intervention with outside agencies and avoid intervention with numerous acts of industries, factories, transport, Excise, pollution, mining ,metrology ,labour depts. Etc.. &  to be dealt through a single window system of an agency to oversee activities in port area. Tax incentives to port facilities & especially dredging costs are prohibitive need to be incentivized. If a uniform policy to evolve lorry rates based on distance only across the ports sector will give more transparence and cost effectiveness to clients. Our government should attract more investments to augment the hinterland potential so that the port utilization would be much viable as there are many private ports are in line up. The government should strive consistently to develop the coastal business which will enable the port to utilize more effectively.”

A few developed nations in Europe and Asia have good base for maritime trade. What is the condition in India?

MM: “As we are progressing in the Eco system of Indian Sub-Continent has a miles to cross and compare the other countries but observing the developments in a decade in Indian ports sector has achieved commendable growth & facilitations. Especially, govt policy of easing ‘Cabotage policy & accommodating customs norms’, opens horizons for foreign ships to develop container business connecting the coastal ports and neighboring ports.”

In your view as an experienced hand in the sector, how is the Indian shipping industry doing now?

MM: “Indian shipping industry is progressing in right direction to hit the bull’s eye on achieving the panoramic vision of India connecting ‘Multimodal services’ delivers ‘Doors step Delivery’ to customers is not a long time to wait to achieve glorious scenario competing with developed nations of the globe.”

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