Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, May 10, 2002
Indfex to link Chennai to China, far-eastern ports
Raja Simhan T.E.
CHENNAI, May 9
THE first main line vessel from the Chennai port is expected to leave for East-bound destinations on June 15. The service will provide direct port calls to some of the northern Chinese ports from Chennai, the first time from the Indian east coast.
The INDFEX (India Far East Express) consortium comprising the state-owned Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), Dongnama Shipping Co Ltd, Seoul, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Ltd, Japan, and Pacific International Lines, Singapore, will launch the INDFEX 2 service linking the East coast of India to China and other Far-East ports, industry sources said.
The new service would be a fixed-day weekly service, and the first Westbound sailing will be from Dalian on June 4, followed by an Eastbound sailing from Chennai on June 15, sources said.
The starting of the service will be yet another major step in the Government of India's proposal to make Chennai a container hub in the East coast, along with the Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNP) in the West coast. The first measure was the privatisation of the Chennai container terminal, handed over to Chennai Container Terminal Ltd (CCTL), a special purpose vehicle of P&O Ports, Australia.
In June last, the same consortium launched INDFEX service, the first direct service linking the West coast of India, Nhava Sheva port, to China and Korea.
Sources said that the likely rotation would be Dalian, Xingan, Yantai, Qingdao (in China), Hong Kong, Singapore, Port Klang, Chennai, Port Klang, Singapore, Pasir Gudang, Hong Kong and Dalian.
Five vessels of 1,500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) each would be deployed in the service, which would provide `fast', and `reliable' transit time of 15 days between Chennai and north Chinese ports, sources said.
For Indian shippers, a major advantage from main line vessels calling Chennai would be saving of from transshipment cost of $25-$50 per box in ports such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Port Klang.
Currently, feeder vessels shuttle in and out of the East coast of India, and all Eastbound cargo including to China from India are transshipped at two or three transshipment ports, resulting in additional cost for the shippers.
"It would be a major saving for us in the present depressed market conditions," said a city-based shipper. The transit time is likely to come down by at least a week or 10 days, as containers need not wait at the transshipment ports, sources added.
Some of the products going Eastbound from India include granite (largely to China), seasonal products and cotton yarn.
As per the non-negotiable conditions, the licensee, CCTL, will develop Chennai as hub port on the East coast. The licensee should also ensure that within three years main line vessels call on the port bringing in minimum throughput by way of non-transshipment traffic containers not transshipped from the neighbouring ports of Colombo, Singapore, Port Klang, Dubai and Salalah to the tune of 20 per cent of total traffic in the third year, 25 per cent of the total traffic in the 4th year and 30 per cent of the total traffic from the 5th year.
Sources said that in the last couple of months, there has been a considerable improvement in the productivity (sources said the productivity was over 80 moves per shift per gantry in February and over 90 moves in March) at the Chennai container terminal.
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