Bangalore: Container cargo traffic at India’s 12 major government-owned ports grew 19.03% in fiscal 2008, bolstered by strong demand for shipping raw material and exporting finished goods in the second fastest growing major economy.
The 12 ports handled 6.60 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in the 12 months to March 2008, up from 5.44 million TEUs in the previous year. A TEU is the standard size of a container and is a common measure of capacity in the container business.
Of the total cargo shipped in steel containers, Jawaharlal Nehru (JN) Port—India’s biggest container port located in Navi Mumbai—handled 4.06 million TEUs, accounting for more than 61% of the total container cargo traffic. Container cargo traffic at JN Port, which has three terminals, grew 23% to 4.06 million TEUs.
Its container cargo handling facility run by DP World, the world’s fourth biggest container port operator and owned by the Dubai government, handled 1.51 million TEUs, while another terminal run by a consortium of APM Terminals and state-owned Container Corp. of India Ltd (Concor) handled 1.29 million TEUs. The third terminal operated by the government-owned port handled 1.26 million TEUs.
The other 11 ports are located at Mumbai, Kolkata, Paradip, Vizag, Ennore, Chennai, Tuticorin, Kochi, Mangalore, Mormugao and Kandla.
Container cargo represents only about 30% by value of India’s external trade—pale when compared with the global containerized cargo average of 70-75%. At a growth rate of 19%, India’s container cargo traffic is estimated to reach 21 million TEUs by 2016 from about 7 million TEUs now.
In comparison, China has created capacity at its ports to handle more than 100 million TEUs a year.
“India will have to provide infrastructure ahead of demand. Improved ports and other supporting infrastructure will help achieve full growth potential,” said Julian M. Bevis, chairman of the Container Shipping Lines Association, a body representing container shipping companies operating from India.
To cope with increasing demand, terminal operators in India are investing in equipment to handle more cargo and new facilities are being established at Chennai, Krishnapatnam, Karaikal, Puducherry, Vizhinjam, Ennore and Hazira.
In 2007-08, the country’s second biggest container port at Chennai handled 1.02 million TEUs, an improvement on the 798,000 TEUs last year. DP World runs the container terminal at the Chennai port.
PSA International, the world’s second biggest container port operator, handled about 430,000 TEUs from its terminal at the Tuticorin port on the country’s eastern coast. PSA is owned by the Singapore government’s investment arm Temasek Holdings.
Two other container ports outside the control of the Union government and located at Mundra and Pipavav in Gujarat handled 711,549 TEUs and about 200,000 TEUs, respectively, in 2007-08. These ports are owned by the Gujarat government, but have been given to private firms for development and operation.
Dubai-based DP World runs the Mundra facility, while APM Terminals, the container port operating unit of Danish shipping and oil conglomerate AP Moller-Maersk Group, runs the Pipavav terminal.
DP World is India’s biggest container terminal operator accounting for half of India’s container traffic. It handled 3.5 million TEUs from its terminals at JN Port, Mundra, Kochi, Chennai and Vizag in 2007-08.