MUMBAI : With export momentum gaining strength, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) – the country’s largest container port – aims to sustain pre-Covid levels of cargo volumes amid continued container shortage.
“JNPT has already regained its traffic to pre-Covid levels in the April-July period. We have sustained the volumes since there is good export-import momentum. We should grow 4 per cent on an annual basis,” said Unmesh Wagh, deputy chairman, JNPT.
Compared to 2020-21, when cargo volumes were at 11,92,165 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), during April-July, the rise was around 50.8 per cent.
“Improving the turnaround time for International Organization for Standardization (ISO) containers, freeing up containers stacked at Customs, and investing in dwarf containers are some of the ways JNPT is tackling container shortage,” said Wagh.
Around 20,000-30,000 ISO containers will be de-stuffed (or unloaded), making it available for the port.
An ISO container is an international intermodal container that is manufactured according to the specifications outlined by the ISO. These containers are usually communicated in TEUs and are suitable for rail, truck, and ships.
“The idea is to keep ISO containers in the port vicinity to keep the turnaround time minimum. JNPT will be having its first dwarf container train in September,” said Wagh. “The dwarf containers placed over the usual ISO containers will allow double stacking on rail rakes, in turn allowing volume to increase 67 per cent, with charges being lower than that for ISO (containers),” added Wagh.
When the Covid-19 pandemic struck, countries went into lockdown in a phased manner. This disturbed the demand-supply balance of these containers in the market.
In a regular market, there is around 5-10 per cent of demand-supply mismatch with regard to container availability.
Freight also went up across routes. China to Canada or China to the US saw freight shoot up to $40,000, from $10,000, against India-Europe or India-US, which rose to $4,000 and $6,000, from $1,200 and $2,000, respectively.
“Shipping companies with the intent of profit maximisation placed containers on the China-Canada and China-US routes, leading to a shortage for India. No one knows when equilibrium will be restored,” said Wagh.
During April-July, the port handled 17,97,838 TEUs, against 17,38,459 TEUs handled in the same period in 2019-20 — the pre-Covid financial year. The rise was 3.41 per cent from pre-Covid levels. JNPT handles seafood, agro commodities, pharmaceuticals, auto components, and steel, among others, as part of export cargo.
Source : Business Standard