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Krishnapatnam Port has emerged as largest transhipment port in east coast

BV Mahalakshmi
Krishnapatnam Port, largest transhipment port, east coast, Sri Lanka, Navayuga Container Terminal, KPCL

In a departure from the oft-cited scenario of India s transshipment volumes being grabbed by ports in neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, the Krishnapatnam port in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh has been thriving on the business, with November s volumes of 20,600 TEUs turning it into the largest transshipment port on the country s east coast.

Transshipment trade allows freight to be transported between a port and an international hub port when direct mainline connections are not available. The Krishnapatnam port, promoted by the CVR group, is an all-weather deep-water port. Its present draft of 18.5 m can accommodate full-sized cape vessels of 200,000-tonne capacity. To cater to future demand its transshipment volumes grew 7% y-o-y in November the port has undertaken an expansion project for its Navayuga Container Terminal (NCT). This entails addition of 250 m of berth-length to the existing 650 m and erection of three more quay cranes (QCs). The project, expected to be complete by the fourth quarter of FY18-19, would increase the terminal s capacity from 1.2 million TEUs to 2 million TEUs.

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Analysts say the upgrade is in sync with the development of container transshipment terminals on India s coastline. About 2.8 million TEUs or about 25% of India s container cargo is transshipped at ports like Colombo, Singapore, Port Klang, Salalah and Jebel Ali at present. In a recent study, McKinsey & Co. recommended stakeholders adopting a three-pronged programme to encourage transshipment handling at key ports: pick up additional cargo from other ports lacking mainline calls for existing services; work with various carriers to introduce additional ports of call; and lure more carriers to call at Indian ports.

The Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd (KPCL) is building the port in three phases, with the second phase of expansion underway at present. To tap the market for transshipment cargo, Krishnapatnam has been building its infrastructure and restructuring its service offerings, says Vinita Venkatesh, director, NCT. Shreyas Shipping is already running not less than three feeder loops from NCT through this network, Shreyas Shipping and NCT are providing mainline vessels transshipment services to all container ports in India. Global giant Maersk Line too has begun using the Krishnapatnam port for the purpose. Among other liners to follow suit are Hyundai Merchant Marine, Zim, Goldstar, and SCI. In fact, NCT became the first east-coast terminal for which Xpress Feeders of Singapore has deployed transshipment feeders under the new liberalised regime for transshipment.

Taken together, transshipment feeders offer five services a week from NCT. This has seen its transshipment volumes grow from 13,000 TEUs per month in Q1FY19 to 17,200 TEUs in Q2FY19 and 19,800 TEUs in Q3FY19. Overall, at 4,81,408 TEUs, KPCL witnessed a record 88% jump in container cargo in FY17-18, with the figure at 3,11,819 TEUs in the first eight months of FY19. Our move to invest capex ahead of demand is aimed at drawing more mainline services and coastal feeder operators to NCT for transshipment operations, Venkatesh points out.