Bangalore: The Union government-owned Kochi port, India’s most expensive in terms of ship calling costs, has got the port tariff regulator’s approval to raise vessel-related charges by 40%.
These charges comprise port dues, berth hire and pilotage, and are levied on shipowners. Customers of the port had opposed the proposed hike because of the already high costs.
But the port’s cost statement reflected an operating deficit of around Rs123 crore, the Tariff Authority for Major Ports said in an order dated 7 April. “In view of the overall deficit position, there is a case for upward revision in the tariff of Cochin port,” it said.
Meeting expenses: The Kochi port, although the costliest Indian port in terms of ship calling rates, has an operating deficit of Rs123 crore. Sivaram V/Reuters
The regulator, which sets rates for 11 of the 12 ports run by the Union government, has approved an increase of 40% in port dues, pilotage and wharfage charge of containers, and 30% in berth hire charges.
The tariffs are set on the cost-plus model by adding 16% to the actual costs.
The new rates will run till 31 March 2012.
“Cochin is already the costliest port in the region and one of the most expensive in the world in terms of ship calling costs,” a spokesman for the Indian National Shipowners’ Association, the local shipping industry lobby, said in a statement. “The hike in rates will make the port unattractive to shipping lines.”
Port calling costs for a ship that can carry 1,200 standard cargo containers is $19,000 (Rs8.4 lakh) at Kochi. The rate is $3,300 in Colombo in Sri Lanka and $5,700 in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. The Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, too, said the Kochi port would become “more non-competitive” due to the increase in rates.
In the year to March, the port handled 17.43 million tonnes (mt) of cargo, some 2 mt more than that in the previous year.