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PSA allows bidding for new container terminal at VOC Port

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Shri Vaibhavi Logistics

SINGAPORE : PSA International Pte Ltd has been allowed to participate in the tender for a new container terminal at V O Chidambaranar Port Authority (VOC Port) after a court order led the Centre-owned port authority to annul its earlier decision to disqualify the Singapore-based port operator.

The VOC Port Authority had excluded PSA International from the bid citing multiple, adverse court orders against the global port operator.

PSA Sical Terminals Ltd, the entity that has been running the container terminal from Berth No 7 at VOC Port since 1998, owes some ₹1,250 crore in royalty arrears to the port authority.

On January 20, VOC Port issued a termination notice on the terminal operator following an adverse ruling by the Madras High Court on January 19 on a petition brought by the entity seeking to settle royalty payment issues.

PSA Sical is 51 per cent owned by PSA International Pte Ltd, a unit of Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore.

VOC Port has called global bids for converting a bulk cargo berth No 9 into a container terminal, the third such facility at the port to handle cargo containers.

PSA challenged its exclusion from the tender before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. In an interim order on 18 March, the court asked VOC Port Authority to permit PSA to bid but said that the award of the tender should be subject to the outcome of the petition brought by the port operator.

During a further hearing on March 23, the VOC Port Authority told the court it was “withdrawing” the letter informing PSA of its disqualification from the bid. The petition was accordingly disposed of.

Port industry sources said that PSA had sought to reverse its exclusion from the VOC Port tender to secure its “reputation and brand image” worldwide from any fallout of a disqualification from a port bid in India.

Besides, other Indian port authorities are expected to cite PSA’s troubles at VOC Port to deny participation in upcoming cargo terminal tenders, creating embarrassment to the global port operator owned by the Singapore government.

Aside VOC Port, PSA also runs terminals at Jawaharlal Nehru Port and Chennai Port and the firm was one of the earliest to invest in Indian ports when the sector was opened to private funds more than two decades ago.

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