The Container Corporation of India (Concor) is going global: the company has entered the race to pick up the contract to operate and manage the Birgunj inland container depot in Nepal.
The Birgunj ICD, largely financed by the World Bank, was completed in early 2001 but has remained non-operational till date. The Nepal government has invited bids from terminal operators to run the ICD.
Concor will be bidding alone at the moment, but it would induct a joint venture partner later to manage the ICD. The depot can handle 40,000 containers per year.
"We will form a separate JV company with a partner for the Birgunj ICD," a Concor official told Business Standard.
Presently, Concor runs a direct rail service connecting Kolkata to Raxaul on the Nepal border in north Bihar. A 5.6 kilometer long broad gauge line has already been laid connecting Raxaul with Birgunj inside Nepal.
Commissioning of the ICD would enable Concor to transport Nepal cargo for unloading right inside Nepal at Birgunj. This would eliminate the problems related to customs formalities in India.
The ICD would boost trade to and from Nepal in a big way and help Concor corner that traffic. According to one estimate, transit and transportation cost to Nepal is expected to come down by 40 per cent.
The ICD would commence operations within three months is awarded to Concor.
"The Birgunj ICD had better facilities than Raxaul. Birgunj has two warehouses, one for the Indo-Nepal bilateral cargo and the other for third country export. It has six railway tracks within the ICD," sources said.
Concor sources said response from companies willing to come in partners has been excellent. Final selection of the partner would take place shortly. The Nepal venture would be Concor's first JV.
Concor manages the largest number of container terminals in India. It was in the midst of a Rs 1,400 crore (Rs 14 billion) expansion plan spread over four years.
Initially, the Birgunj ICD will only cater to the third country cargo. Volumes would multiply after it starts handling bilateral cargo, said trade sources. The ports of Kolkata and Haldia were expected to benefit.