Sudden surge in volumes takes Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals off guard
MUMBAI : Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT), one of the five container handling facilities at State-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port, is facing “some congestion” as it grapples with a sudden surge in export cargo due to the closure of berths in other terminals at the port and missed vessel schedules caused by events unfolding in China.
“There is a little bit of congestion in BMCT,” said Unmesh Wagh, Deputy Chairman, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, which runs India’s second biggest container port. “It will ease out in 6-8 days,” he said while adding emphatically that Jawaharlal Nehru Port in totality was not facing congestion.
BMCT is run by PSA International Pte Ltd, the sovereign wealth fund of Singapore.
A P M Terminals run Gateway Terminals India (GTI) has temporarily shut one of its berths for an infrastructure upgrade that is expected to be completed by early September.
Nhava Sheva Free Port Terminal, which acquired the existing container terminal previously run by the port authority, will revamp the facility in two phases which is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2024.
Initially, the Nhava Sheva Free Port Terminal will operate one berth for handling container ships which would be subsequently further strengthened. The other berth area will be widened to increase the rail span from the existing 20 metres to 30 metres.
Trade sources attributed the congestion build-up to a Customs Department order last October, directing all factory stuffed export containers to be routed only through the Centralized Parking Plaza (CPP) developed by the port authority for completing the Customs documentation and help move export boxes quickly to the terminals for loading onto waiting ships.
“It takes as much as 18 hours to discharge the export containers at the terminals inside the port and return with import boxes,” said a trade source. “It used to take a maximum of two hours earlier,” he added.
JNPA Deputy Chairman Wagh, though, disagreed with this claim by the trade, stating that
the Centralized Parking Plaza had “no role” in the congestion at BMCT.
“Since the Centralized Parking Plaza started operations in 2020, its capacity utilisation never crossed 70 percent. So, there is no congestion at the parking plaza,” Wagh said.
In fact, Wagh said that the parking plaza has helped reduce the export dwell time at Jawaharlal Nehru Port by 20 percent to three hours. Some 35 percent of the containers handled at Jawaharlal Nehru Port are factory stuffed export containers.
“The parking plaza has reduced the time and cost involved in moving export containers to the terminals located less than 5 kms away. From the parking plaza, it takes just 30 minutes to reach the terminal gates,” he said.
“This facility is the cheapest and the most convenient way of moving export containers to the terminals compared to the container freight stations,” he pointed out.
The port authority will install a scanner at the parking plaza to screen containers, which will save more time in processing and movement of containers, he revealed.
“The port authority will also build a new Centralized Parking Plaza exclusively for handling containers destined for and coming out of BMCT,” Wagh disclosed.
A dedicated parking plaza for BMCT was considered necessary because it will account for some 45 percent of the total container handling capacity at Jawaharlal Nehru Port when the second phase of the terminal starts operations by 2025.
Wagh said that the trade was “settling” after the pandemic and indicated that the situation had come about because of lack of “good yard management” by BMCT.
“The sudden surge in volumes at BMCT is due to missed vessel schedules arising from development in China and the closure of berths in other terminals at Jawaharlal Nehru Port. BMCT will have to mobilise more machinery and manpower to strengthen its storage yard,” he noted.
The trade, meanwhile, has sought permission from the Customs Department to store buffer containers “temporarily” at the nearby container freight stations (CFSs) till the situation improves.
Buffer containers are containers that arrive directly from the factory loaded with export goods and go to the holding yard (buffer yard) of the Centralized Parking Plaza for Customs documentation process.
A delay in arrival of vessels at Jawaharlal Nehru Port along with a sudden surge in export containers have led to heavy load on the facilities at the buffer yard of the Centralized Parking Plaza, hurting the delivery of containers, trade sources said.
In October 2020, the port authority opened a Centralized Parking Plaza for container tractor trailers with Customs facilitation, as part of its efforts to promote ease of doing business.
The parking plaza spread across 45 hectares has a capacity to park 1,538 tractor trailers at a time.
The plaza was built to integrate the parking of tractor trailers carrying factory stuffed export containers at one location instead of multiple locations earlier. This will help integrate document processing by Customs.
The plaza is managed using real time parking management system and has a Wi Fi provision within the premises. The staff at each entry gate and entry lane will guide the tractor trailers to the respective entry gates and lanes for entry formalities to ensure that tractor trailers don’t have to wait in queue for entry.
Once the Customs official inspects and clears the container, the tractor trailer will be allotted the parking bay.
When the Let Export Order (LEO) is issued, the tractor trailer is free to leave the CPP through the respective exit gates.
The plaza system is also designed to ease the movement of container trucks on port roads and help the respective terminals plan their tractor trailer movements in a better way.
Source : ET Infra