Source : Exim News Service – Navi Mumbai, Nov. 19 – India

Congestion at JNPT adversely affecting country’s trade, say stakeholders

Last month, NSICT experienced work stoppages over a wage contract dispute,
disrupting operations for more than two weeks and creating a huge ex-im
backlog. Now there is an ongoing dispute between Gateway Terminals India
(GTI) and its third-party contractors, which unexpectedly continues for the
24th day with devastating effect on the shipping fraternity.

Due to the continuing slowdown by GTI vehicle drivers, the terminal
completely stopped taking in export boxes. With shippers left in the cold,
NSICT started taking ad hoc calls of vessels to take in the boxes meant for
export. This resulted in a huge queue of vehicles, often up to 17 km,
taking nearly 22 to 24 hours for the vehicle to gate in. The queue meant
poor productivity and record low turnaround of vehicles. The current huge
inventory at both JNPCT and NSICT is a direct proof of this.

To manage the situation, the terminals have started resorting to sudden
closure of export gates, which has added to the congestion on the roads.
Everybody in the logistics chain has been caught in the vicious cycle of
congestion and consequent high inventory inside the terminals.

This has also resulted in disruption in the long-term sailing schedules,
with vessels sailing without carrying the intended export boxes.

Congestion leads to lack of availability of transport equipment as the
truck turnaround time gets severely affected, causing a shortage of trucks.
Even though the strike at NSICT has been called off, GTI continues to
experience ‘go slow’ and the situation has become worse because of
inventory and rollover. JNPT has the country’s busiest terminals and any
disruption severely impacts the export and import trade.

It is also learnt that the Port and some terminals are advancing cut-off
times without any prior intimation to the trade and putting restrictions on
move count on boxes for shipping lines, resulting in shut-outs, rollovers
and congestion.

The precarious road condition en route further slows down and adds to
congestion. In spite of several reminders to CIDCO and JNPT, road repairs
have not yet been initiated by the nodal agencies. Also, there is no proper
surveillance by the authorities of illegal parking of truck trailers on
either side of the road, further aggravating the situation. Because of
these disruptions, export containers are required to be unloaded at buffer
yards on chargeable basis, but shippers are not using the yards because it
increases their transaction cost.

While efforts are being taken by all stakeholders to keep the business
going, the severe pressure on the infrastructure is taking its toll. This
critical situation is adversely affecting trade within Maharashtra and,
therefore, needs to be addressed urgently. Entities such as JNPT, which is
the landlord of the Port, and the Ministry of Shipping need to take up
these challenges as top priority and initiate immediate measures to resolve
them.

Any further delay in taking cognisance of this problem will result in
Maharashtra losing its productivity in trade operations and, therefore,
losing business to neighbouring regions, highlighted trade sources.