JV with Malaysian co to run Karaikal port

JV with Malaysian co to run Karaikal port

Mumbai: Chennai-based infrastructure development firm MARG Constructions Ltd and Malaysia’s Pembinaan Redzai Sdn Bhd will set up a joint venture company to operate the all-weather, deep-water seaport at Karaikal in Puducherry.

The two firms have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore potential cooperation in a variety of areas for the Karaikal port project for strategic, management and operational expertise, MARG said in a statement. Additional details were not disclosed.

Pembinaan Redzai owns some 40% stake in Westports Holdings Sdn Bhd, the holding company for Westports Malaysia Sdn Bhd that runs one of the two container terminals at Port Klang, the world’s 12th biggest container port.

Westports handled 2.3 million containers in the nine months to September.

The Bombay Stock Exchange-listed MARG signed an agreement with the government of Puducherry last year to develop and operate a new port at Karaikal for 30 years, in phases, with a capacity to handle more than 10 million tonnes of cargo a year.

“Pembinaan Redzai has the technology and the skill sets. So, we are bringing Pembinaan as a port operator for the Karaikal project," said a MARG executive, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

“If in the process of becoming our port operator, Pembinaan wants a stake in Karaikal port project, we are willing to look at it. This would be more for strategic reasons rather than financial reasons," the same executive said.

The first phase of the port, costing Rs416 crore, will start operations in October next year, with two common berths to handle coal and general cargo, including containers.

The two berths will have a depth of 14m, enabling ships with a cargo carrying capacity of 60,000 tonnes to call for discharging and loading cargo.

In the second phase, the depth in the channel and at the berth will be increased to 16m, allowing ships with a cargo carrying capacity of 100,000 tonnes to call at the port.

MARG proposes to build a berth exclusively for handling container cargo in the second phase of the port development.

Karaikal is located on the Tamil Nadu-Puducherry coast, 250km south of Chennai and 360km north of Tuticorin.