An increase in export of iron ore and steel products like billets to China is helping the Visakhapatnam Port Trust fare better than other major ports during the lockdown, its Chairman K. Ram Mohan Rao said on Saturday.
“While the port saw its growth declining to -10%, we still fared better than other rival ports, some of which saw their growth plummeting to -30%,” Mr. Rao told. He said that there was a 20% drop in handling coal due to a fall in demand for power production by various plants and iron ore owing to scaling down of output by steel plants ever since the lockdown was imposed.
Mr. Rao said SAIL, Jindal, Tata and Bagadia Group were doing better in exploring demand for steel products in China after it stopped production as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As far as coal is concerned, there is a slump in demand following decline in industrial activity. This would go up once the industries revive normal production in the coming days,” he said.
VPT has identified coastal shipping as a potential area for future. “We want to encourage coastal shipping in a big way so as to improve our throughput during this year,” he said.
Port authorities feel that coastal transport of cargo from the hinterland extending to Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand to ports like Haldia will help it recover the losses sustained during the lockdown.
VPT, which stood fourth in 2018-19, improved its cargo flow by handling 72.72 million tonnes in 2019-20, rising to third position after Kandla and Paradip, and pushing JNPT to fourth.
Mr. Rao said that container traffic from the port through its BOT operator Visakha Container Terminal Private Limited was witnessing impressive growth by increasing throughput from 2.5 lakh twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) three years ago to five lakh TEUs now.
He said by offering total end-to-end logistic solutions, they were able to convince prospective clients to handle cargo through Visakhapatnam Port.
The recent meeting of the port also retained discount in vessel-related charges for container cargo and other benefits to prevent diversion of cargo to other ports and attract new clients taking advantage of competitive user charges and advantages over faster evacuation.