Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chennai Port plans CFS at Thiruvottiyur to ease congestion in future


If the efforts of Chennai Port management in setting up a Container Freight Station (CFS) for “Seal Verification” of export containers at Thiruvottiyur Parking Yard, located within a few km distance from the port’s main entry point, materialize as anticipated it would drastically reduce traffic congestion that sullied the port’s reputation among the trade.
According to sources in Shipping Ministry, the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) for consideration of proposals for setting up of ICDs/CFSs, said to be the top body for such infrastructure projects, has approved the Chennai Port’s CFS project subject to concurrence of Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, a senior official from the Ministry, said: “Getting clearance from the IMC is a first major step towards setting up the facility and the CBEC is expected to give its concurrence very soon, given the need for such a facility to arrest congestion in Chennai Port for the benefit of EXIM trade.
With the road connectivity projects like EMRIP and Elevated Expressway from the port to city outskirts, Maduravoyal, moving at a snail’s pace, Chennai Port, for the past few years, has been struggling with congestion of container-laden trailers.
Though the port management had tried every possible option to solve the congestion conundrum, it had failed and the delay weaned away its loyal users to other ports in the region to meet their export deadlines and other obligations.
Due to sudden plunge in container volumes and overall business due to congestion, the port management started exploring options to bring more volumes and during one such meeting with top officials it has emerged that setting up a CFS at Thiruvottiyur would reduce unnecessary lining up of trailers at Madhavaram, some 20 km away from the port, for just seal verification.
Under the prevailing system, all the export trailers carrying “Out-station Stuffing Containers” and Chennai Customs Overtime Basis Factory Stuffing Containers have to line up at CWC, Madhavaram, for Customs formalities including the seal verification.
EXIM trade also felt that for a simple process of seal verification (which can be easily done anywhere near the port entrance), trailers are forced to spend almost a day due to unnecessary accumulation of all vehicles at one point.
“Since the location of the seal verification point remains far-away from the port, all export trailers first need to line up here (Madhavaram) and once the process of verifying the seal and taking print out of Shipping Bills with the Let Export Order (LEO) are done, they have to drive another 10 km on a busy road used by public transports as well as motorists, to join another queue to enter the port premises for delivering the containers,” said a trailer driver.

Most of the drivers, who were waiting at CWC for seal verification, strongly suggested that the process should be shifted near the port so that they don’t have to wait and all the formalities could be completed in one go in a single queue.
Thiruvottiyur Parking Yard, which has been now used as a parking space for trailers moving towards Chennai Port, could be converted into a CFS for “Seal Verification” of export containers once the Customs Department notifies the area and allocates manpower.
Besides, the CFS project, which was primarily conceived to reduce long waiting hours for export trailers, would also bring about Rs. 10 crores as revenue to the port annually.

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