Several speakers at last week’s East Coast Maritime Business Summit in India have called for investment in hinterland connectivity.
The chiefs of Bengal Tiger Lines, Dhamra Port, Krishnapatnam Port Container Terminal (KPCT), Sravan Shipping, JM Baxi Group and Samsara Group all called for work to be done to ensure that cargo is evacuated from terminals faster.
The chairman of the Dredging Corporation of India, D.K. Mohanty told The Hindu that investment in existing ports should be prioritised over the planned construction of 40 new greenfield ports on the East Coast of India.
“We don’t have a single port which handles 100m tonnes,” he said, “whereas Shanghai alone handles a throughput of 800m tonnes.”
Mohanty continued to say that terminals should be better connected to inland waterways.
Visakhapatnam port chairman M.T. Krishna Babu told the conference that only 60-70% of India’s port capacity was being used.
He said that his port, mid-way up the East Coast of India, is currently investing more than US$500m which will increase its capacity from 80m tonnes to 125m tonnes.
G. Sambasiva Rao, managing director of Sravan Shipping, said that supporting infrastructure was not adequate in Andhra Pradesh.
“If you build ports in a hurry, there is every danger that they may become mere stock yards,” he said.
The director of KPCT, Vinita Venkatesh, said that cargo from the Vijayawada-Guntur region, which her port was built to handle, was still travelling 120 miles south to Chennai.
She said this was because of several historical reasons as well as high taxes in Andhra Pradesh where Krishnapatnam, but not Chennai, is based.
Andhra Pradesh accounts for 40% of India’s seafood exports, which are expected to double in the next five years, and there were calls from seafood exporters for ports in the state to get ready to handle this rise.