Bangalore: India’s nascent coastal shipping sector is getting a boost as more companies start services for transporting container cargo from one local port to another.
These firms hope to attract a bigger chunk of the domestic container cargo that now moves by road.
Chennai-based Caravel Logistics Pvt. Ltd is starting a new coastal shipping service on 24 April, linking Mundra port in Gujarat with Kochi in Kerala and Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu, managing director Saju Chacko said. The firm has hired a Dutch container ship to run the service. It will call at each of the three ports once in 10 days.
“So far, we were dependent on some other ship operator to move the cargo containers. By hiring a container ship, we have all the links in the multimodal transportation chain under our control,” Chacko said.
Caravel owns steel containers and tractor trailers and has finalized arrangements with private container train operators to move the containers from the premises or warehouses of cargo owners to ports, from where they are put on ships and sent to their final destinations.
An alliance between state-owned Shipping Corp. of India Ltd (SCI), Shreyas Shipping and Logistics Ltd and Seaways Shipping Ltd is also starting a joint service for carrying containers between India’s east and west coasts.
SCI, Shreyas Shipping and Seaways Shipping already move containers between Indian ports, but this is undertaken as part of their international feeder operations.
Jindal Waterways Ltd, a unit of Jindal SAW Ltd, and a consortium of Vikram Logistics and Maritime Services Pvt. Ltd and Kinship Shipping and Logistics Pvt. Ltd already operate container shipping services between the country’s ports.
Jindal’s service links Pipavav port in Gujarat with Kochi. The service jointly run by Vikram Logistic and Kinship connects Okha in Gujarat with Kochi, with Kandla port to be added from May.
Coastal shipping reduces the cost of logistics for customers who primarily use roads for transporting their goods, by offering multi-modal transport combining rail and sea, with peripheral deliveries and pick up done by road, said an executive at SCI. He did not want to be named.
“The cost of transporting goods in containers from North India to South India and vice-versa can be reduced by as much as 40-50% at comparable transit times by using the multi-modal combination of rail and sea,” Caravel’s Chacko said.
The firm plans to ship automobiles in special containers by sea as well as target cargo that need temperature control, such as dairy products, fruits, vegetables and medicines.
In India, coastal shipping currently accounts for 7% of the total domestic cargo moved despite a coastline of 7,517km dotted with 12 Union government-owned ports and at least 200 smaller ports.
In comparison, coastal shipping in the European Union has a 43% share of the total cargo traffic and is rising further.