Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari Wednesday flagged off the maiden container mainline vessel at Tuticorin and said it will be a game changer in container traffic of south India.
At present, containers from Tuticorin to Far East countries like Malaysia, Singapore, China and Hong Kong are transited by the feeder vessels to Colombo, where they are further connected to the mother vessel.
"Gadkari, Union Minister for Shipping and Road Transport & Highways and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation flagged off the first container mainline vessel from VoC Port (Tuticorin Port) along with Shri Edappadi K Palaniswami, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu. He said this will be a game changer in container traffic of South India," the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement here.
With mainline call being done directly at Tuticorin, there will be saving on account of the transshipment cost, the statement said.
"EXIM trade will benefit and there will be a saving of approximately 50 USD per container as handling of container at Colombo will not be required. This service will give benefit to the importers and exporters in terms of saving transshipment cost and transit time," it said.
With the strategic location of the port being so close to the east-west trade route and a draft of 16 metre, the port is poised to attract more mainline vessels and has the potential to become a transshipment hub of south India, it added.
In the last four years, Tuticorin Port has made investments to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore towards improvement of infrastructure with the focus to unlock efficiencies at the port as well as add capacity to reduce logistics cost for EXIM and domestic trade under the 'Sagarmala' initiative.
"In order to make the Tuticorin port a mainline port we have redesigned the development project of Rs 2000 crore and now the deepening of the port would be done in less than Rs 500 crore, after which all vessels with draft of 16 metres can call on the port," the minister said.
"Tuticorin has huge potential to become a major industrial hub. We are planning to develop a 1000 acre industrial area similar to JNPT in this port. I would also like to reiterate that Tuticorin has been seen by customers as one of the most customer friendly port and trade in Tuticorin is very enterprising. Competitive Port tariff, improved infrastructure and customer friendly approach will make Tuticorin Port more reliable and competitive," he added.