With all-out efforts being under way to elevate its ranking to third position among major ports after Kandla and Paradip, the Visakhapatnam Port Trust has set in motion an exercise to emerge as a transhipment hub.
The VPT, which ranked fourth by handling a cargo of 65.30 million tonne during 2018-19, has already received 3.8 million tonne more than the corresponding period last year witnessing the highest growth rate among major ports in the country. “We are expecting to handle a throughput of 70 million tonne to take over third position during the current fiscal,” VPT Chairman K. Ramamohan Rao has told.
As a preparation to become transhipment hub to handle mainland vessels with an overall length (LOA) of 397 metres to carry 15,000 to 16,000 containers from the present 320 LOA containing 6,000 to 7,000 containers, the VPT conducted simulation studies at FORCE Technology, Singapore, sometime ago which proved the scope for handling bigger size vessels technically viable.
Three pilots have been deputed to Singapore for training. Another batch of three pilots from the port will be sent to Singapore in the first week of December. “We will also introduce pilot position unit, a software system, to monitor by the pilots shortly,” VPT Deputy Chairman P.L. Haranadh has said.
He said training the pilots and introduction of the new system would be continued simultaneously. On the other hand, the container terminal-2 will increase the quay length from 450 metres to 1km. The construction of the new terminal has been undertaken under DBFOT route at an estimated cost of Rs. 633 crore.
According to Mr. Haranadh, steps are also being taken to modernise the crane and other equipment and navigation infrastructure as the terminal-2 will be operational by March, 2021.
The VPT is also contemplating tying up with the Kolkata Port for fixed window movement to give priority berthing to cargo meant for transshipment. Visakhapatnam has a deep-drafted container terminal, said to be the deepest in the country with a draft of 14.5 metres. The VPT is offering 10% extra discount on vessel related charges for handling 240 containers.
During the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) ports’ conclave held here recently, Bangladesh officials expressed willingness to use Visakhapatnam to transship their cargo. The landing cost will be less for them if they ferry their containers through Visakhapatnam instead of Singapore and Colombo.
The VPT is also offering 40% discount on vessel related and handling charges for coastal shipping.