Union government-run Mumbai Port will set up exclusive berths for ships that ferry cars and roll-on, roll-off ships in a bid to strengthen its stature as a hub for automobile exports in the country.
“The Ballard Pier Extension berth will be dedicated for pure car carriers, while one berth at Indira Dock will be dedicated for roll-on, roll-off ships calling at Mumbai Port,” said Mumbai Port chairperson Rani Jadhav.
Roll-on, roll-off ships are also called combi vessels that can carry automobiles as well as general cargo.
Jawaharlal Nehru Port, which is seven nautical miles ahead on the same shipping channel, is also eyeing the automobile export business. “J N Port will also develop something in the near future to cater to automobile exports,” said J N Port chairman S.S. Hussain. India’s biggest container port has called the stakeholders for a meeting in this regard, he added.
The move will give a fillip to India’s automobile firms, which have been trying to soften the impact of slowing sales in India by exporting more cars, buses and trucks to overseas. While companies such as Hyundai Motor India Ltd are large exporters of cars out of India, auto makers such as Ashok Leyland Ltd and Tata Motors Ltd too are looking at the export markets.
In the 12 months to March 2007, Mumbai Port handled 197 pure car carriers and roll-on, roll-off ships that accounted for 87,000 vehicles exported by auto makers such as Tata Motors, Maruti Udyog Ltd, Ashok Leyland and Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, Jadhav said. The port currently handles an average of 16-17 pure car carriers and roll-on, roll-off ships in a month.
Mumbai Port, which accounts for 20% of the total cargo traffic handled at all the 12 government-owned major ports, has three enclosed wet docks called Indira, Prince’s and Victoria docks. Ships calling at Mumbai Port can enter or leave the docks located within the port after loading or unloading cargo.
There are two berths on the southward extension of the east arm of the Indira Dock in South Mumbai, namely Ballard Pier Station and Ballard Pier Extension. The Ballard Pier Extension berth, with a depth of 9.75m, can accommodate pure car carriers and also cruise ships calling at the port.
The Ballard Pier Station berth can handle geared container ships (those that can move cargo using their own facilities on board), general cargo ships and cruise ships. This container-handling berth will shortly be given to a consortium comprising Gammon India Ltd and Spanish port operator Dragados SPL. The duo will develop and operate a 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent unit capacity off-shore container terminal at the port.
“We are expecting to award the contract for the off-shore container terminal very shortly,” Jadhav said.