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Monday, June 25, 2001

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New CFS in Tuticorin Port

Raja Simhan T. E.

THE Chennai-based Sanco Trans Limited opened a container freight station (CFS) in Tuticorin on Friday. This is its second CFS after the one in Chennai. With this, the number of CFSs in Tuticorin has gone up to seven.

About 15 km from Tuticorin Port, the CFS is off the Tuticorin-Palayamkottai High Road. In the Phase I, the company built a covered warehouse measuring 5,000 sq ft at Rs 3 crore. An open space to stack 500 containers with two `highs' is also available in the CFS, according to Sanco's Managing Director, Mr V. Upendran.

He added that in Phase II, the company plans to invest Rs 75 lakh in 5,000 sq ft of reefer container handling facilities. Some of the facilities offered at the CFS include a full-fledged Customs office, connection with the Customs EDI (Electronic data in terchange) systems, empty container survey and repair facilities, consolidation of cargo and survey reports for all import/export containers, he said.

Mr Upendran said the CFS would attract a lot of import containers coming through the Tuticorin port. The containers would be destuffed at the CFS and the cargo would proceed to the customers located in such places as Salem, Coimbatore, Madurai and Bangal ore. The CFS is likely to handle such cargo as scrap, paper, cashew, cotton and granite, he said.

According to Mr Upendran, container handling through the Tuticorin port is expected to grow steadily, and it was a good opportunity for the company to invest in the CFS. The CFS would break even in two years, he said.

Mr Upendran said for customers located in Salem and Coimbatore, Tuticorin offered customers cost advantages since it was the closest port. The company would also offer value-added services such as packing and palletising at the CFS, he said.

Earlier, speaking at the CFS inauguration, Mr Upendran said CFS operators found it difficult to pay 1.85 times the actual salary to Customs officials posted in the CFS. He urged the Chief Commissioner of Customs, Chennai, Mr P. R. V. Ramanan, to recommen d the Centre look into the matter, and allow CFS operators to pay only the salary applicable to other Customs officials.

Mr Upendran also urged the Chief Commissioner to arrive at certain procedure, permitting immediate auction of the unclaimed and uncleared cargo. This was to provide more space for handling containers, he said. Mr Ramanan said he would ensure that steps w ould be taken for smooth clearance of documents at the Customs House and at the CFS.

The Tuticorin Port Trust (TPT) Chairman, Mr S. Machendranathan, said the TPT as a facilitator should not have other facilities as stuffing and destuffing of containers within the port. While this has reduced in the recent past, more containers have moved to off-dock CFSs, he said.

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