India's private port growth trumps public piers in market share battle

2012 03 14

PRIVATE smaller ports in India have been notching up double-digit volume growth whereas the 12 major ports are nowhere near the picture as they struggled to churn out a dismal 0.38 per cent increase, according to the Daily News & Analysis of India.

The divergence in growth rates between private and major public ports continues to be accentuated with every passing quarter and the assessment of the Indian Ports Association (IPA) with public port even suffering negative growth.

According to data available for the past two financial years, four minor ports - Essar Ports, Mundra, Gujarat Pipavav and Karaikal - are way ahead in performance compared with their public sector peers.

The volume at Adani-controlled Mundra Port in Gujarat grew 33 per cent to 16.6 million tonnes in the December quarter from 12.5 million tonnes in April-June 2010.

APM Terminal-controlled Gujarat Pipavav is cruising, too. In the last two years, container volumes have climbed a massive 90 per cent. The total container volumes handled in 2011 was 610,243 TEU, up from 321,400 TEU in 2009.

Volumes for the Tamil-Nadu based Karaikal port have almost doubled. The specifics are not available in the public domain, but insiders revealed that the increase has been a staggering 197 per cent.

The corresponding figures for Essar port are not available, but by all accounts, the private venture looks poised for a solid growth this fiscal. The total volume handled was 39.55 million tonnes last financial year and for April-December 2011, the number came in at around 30.87 million tonnes, the report said.

The major ports pale in comparison. Last fiscal, the growth rate in total volumes at all 12 major ports stood at a measly 1.57 per cent year on year. IPA data showed that the volume growth for April-February 2012 has been negative at -0.74 per cent.

To make things worse, individual performance of two main ports in the country is far from satisfactory. Mumbai's Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the busiest container port in the country, grew 5.82 per cent year on year in volumes last fiscal. For April-February 2012, the rate is much lower at three per cent. Similarly, Kandla port, the country's largest port in terms of volumes handled, has slowed. While for the last financial year, the port reported a three per cent year-on-year growth in volumes.

The bottom line is the momentum seems to lie with the private ports as these have been aggressively ramping up their capacity and improving cargo clearance measures. In contrast, major ports have given a poor account of themselves by failing to step up. Despite the Shipping Ministry drawing up ambitious measures under the 11th Five Year Plan, nothing much has seen the light of day. The ministry had set a target of awarding 23 projects this fiscal, in reality it has managed to award only two, which are the dry bulk terminal project at Kandla and JNPT's fourth container terminal.

Source Shipping Gazette - Daily Shipping News

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