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VCTPL expansion project back on track; works gain pace

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VISAKHAPATNAMAfter a long pause, the expansion project of Visakha Container Terminal Private Limited (VCTPL), a build-operate-transfer (BOT) operator of Visakhapatnam Port Trust, is gaining momentum.

Owing to inordinate delay of close to 11 months in executing the project, the initial estimated project cost (EPC) of Rs 633.11 crore has now gone up to Rs 954 crore.

Though the award of concession was accorded to the VCTPL on March 2, 2019 to complete the project in 24 months, rupee depreciation, corona pandemic, hike in fuel prices coupled with delay in getting the environmental and security clearances and time consumed to resolve the approach road litigation in the wake of opposition by the fishing community and mobilisation of workers who had left to their hometowns, are among the prime reasons for the delay in executing the project.

But not any longer. After months of lull, work has eventually picked up pace. Though the VPT has set a revised timeline for executing the project as February 1, 2022, the VPT officials exude confidence that it is likely to get wrapped up in advance. “The project is expected to be commissioned by January-end. With this, the VCTPL would be able to handle a small ship plus two large ships of 350-mt length simultaneously with a capacity of 20,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit) and a maximum depth of 15-mt. Also, super post Panamax cranes have been installed to handle a huge beam across.

The project is expected to enhance the terminal capacity from the existing 0.7 million TEUs to 1.3 million TEUs,” explains K Rama Mohana Rao, Chairman of VPT.

Once the extension part gets commissioned, the handling of TEUs per annum is expected to increase to 10 percent to 15 percent and the throughput to an equal percentage in the initial two-three years. Currently, the VCTPL is handling 5 lakh TEUs per annum. With the new project taking shape, the container terminal is expected to boost its volumes by 10 percent to 15 percent year on year in the initial three years. Depending on the new projects that get grounded in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, there is a scope for a further rise in the throughput in subsequent years.

As a part of the project, three ship to shore (quay) cranes and nine rubber tyre gantry cranes have been procured. With nine quay cranes adding to the fleet along with the additional equipment, it would further aid VCTPL to handle 17 vessels in a week from the present seven to 10 vessels thereby increasing the volumes to a considerable extent with ease.

However, there is always an element of threat of sharing the cake by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited-controlled Gangavaram Port Limited.

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