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Trade caught in port logjam
Vishaka Zadoo in New Delhi | July 05, 2005 10:50 IST
Heavy rains in the western region will affect importers and exporters across the country with 29,048 containers piled up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Navi Mumbai, compared with the normal pendency of 8,000-10,000 containers.
The pendency of 19,132 containers in October 2004, when the JNPT was in the middle of a major congestion problem, indicates the gravity of the problem. The situation was brought down to a manageable 9,790 containers by December 2004.
"The port is suffering due to clogging of road and rail routes because of incessant rains in western region," a JNPT official said.
He added that though last week was difficult, the situation would improve from today, as rail and road routes were slowly opening up.
Last week, trains were running at half the normal frequency of about five trains a day as the regular rail route -- from Delhi via Ratlam and Vadodara to JNPT -- was blocked due to floods.
Much to the relief of the industry, Container Corporation of India will on Tuesday resume its normal services of about 12 trains a day via alternative routes. These run via Egatpuri (Maharashtra) to JNPT or the Jalgaon-Surat-JNPT route, Concor executives said.
As of this morning, the inventory build up at the Jawaharlal Nehru Container Terminal was 15,427 containers and that at Nhava Sheva Container Terminal at the port was at 13,621 containers, according to JNPT officials.
But exporters are keeping their fingers crossed. "It would be difficult to give an exact assessment of losses now as our consignments are on the way," P Suri, general secretary of Delhi Export Association said.
He added that as normal routes were blocked, the exporters were uncertain about where their goods were.
JNPT officials said the pile-up was due to factors beyond the port's control. During floods and rains, freight transportation was the first casualty as passenger movement was the priority.
"The problem arises because, same rail corridors serve both passenger and freight traffic," the official said. There was no overnight solution to this seasonal clogging problem, he added.Infrastructure, in terms of better quality roads for evacuation of domestic traffic and rail corridors exclusively for freight, would be built over time. "Till then we can deal with the situation the best we can," he said.