Mr K.K. Krishnadas, Chief Executive Officer, DP World Cochin
The International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT), the first transshipment terminal in India and the first container terminal to operate in a SEZ, was inaugurated and dedicated to the nation (the first phase of the terminal) by the then Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh on 11th February 2011.
DP World has set up a state-of-the art container terminal in Cochin to cater to the growing container trade in India. DP world had developed ICTT, on a build operate and transfer (BOT) agreement with Cochin Port Trust for a period of 30 years.
This project will be completed in three phases. In the first phase, the 600 m long quay with a draught of approx 14.5 m with capacity to handle one million TEUs annually. Capacity will expand in line with market demand, increasing to around 1.5 million TEUs in the second phase, once fully commissioned, capacity would be around four million TEUs.
In an exclusive interview to Port Wings, Mr K.K. Krishnadas, Chief Executive Officer, DP World Cochin, elaborated about the terminal and its future plans to become a true Transshipment Terminal of India.
Excerpts of the interview…
Q: It has been about three years since the ICTT was commissioned. How have been the operations over these years?
Mr K K Krishnadas: Operations have been streamlined and most of the processes and procedures have been aligned with International Transshipment Terminals. Our goal is to position ICTT as one of the most efficient Terminals in this region.
Q. When it was conceived, and launched, the ICTT was expected to play a vital role in augmenting the economy of the region, especially that of Kerala. How do you assess the impact the terminal has on the economy after shifting the operations to ICTT?
KKK: ICTT has definitely marked a change from the earlier days. Today the EXIM community in Kerala has access to world a class facility at its doorstep. There is zero delay in shipments, be it exports or imports, and this has given tremendous confidence not only to the EXIM community in Kerala but also to the exporters and importers in our neighboring states. Ancillary businesses like Transportation, CFS’s, ICD’s, Empty Yards etc ,have started operating thereby adding value to the local community
Q: How many direct shipping lines operate from ICTT? How successful have these services been?
KKK: Currently we have four main line services operating at ICTT, the NEMO Service operated by CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd which is a direct service connecting Kochi to some of the major destinations in Europe, the AME service operated by ZIM Line to East Mediterranean, the CCG Service operated by Simatech and SMILE service operated by SCI, which are direct services to Jebel Ali - the gateway to Middle East. These services have been very stable from inception till date and have been able to increase their volumes, thereby demonstrating how successful these services are.
Q: What has been the effect of the Cabotage law on the functioning of the terminal?
KKK: The success of any transshipment hub is based on an effective hub-spoke mechanism. In the port business, this would mean feeder connectivity to various cargo origin/destination points. For ICTT to operate as a true Transshipment terminal, it was very essential to provide feeder connectivity to the other ports in the region. This connectivity needs to be efficient and cost effective, without trade barriers. The relaxation of Cabotage for ICTT addresses exactly these issues. With cabotage being relaxed for ICTT, we now have a level playing field with other transshipment ports in the region. Mainline vessels can now evaluate ICTT as an option for their transshipment hub which was not possible prior to Cabotage being relaxed.
Q: What is the feeder network of the terminal?
KKK: Currently we have a regular feeder service connecting the ports of Mundra, Pipava and Mangalore on the west coast of India as well as the ports of Kolkata, Vizag, Chennai and Tuticorin on the east coast of India. Over and above this, we also have feeder connections to foreign neighbouring ports like Colombo and the Jebel Ali.
Q: How competitive are you when compared with the Colombo port in terms of facilities, quality of service, turn-around time etc?
KKK: ICTT has the state-of-the-art facility with the most modern equipment to handle new generation vessels. Operationally, ICTT is in line with other transshipment terminals in the region. ICTT is geared in all aspects to compete with International Transshipment Terminals.
Q: What are the other facilities that you would like to come up if the State and the industries were to make the maximum benefit out the facility?
KKK: We require more allied infrastructure like CFS’s , warehouses, Cold Storages etc to develop around ICTT. There is a pressing need to improve the road infrastructure in the State for faster and safer transportation of goods, not only for cargo within the state of Kerala , but also for cargo generated from hinterland locations like Coimbatore , Salem, Tirupur etc. Delays at the Walayar check post is a major cause of concern for the trade especially from other states across the border. An integrated checkpost at Walayar is very essential . This will ensure faster turnaround of trucks at the border in turn will facilitate more cargo to flow towards Cochin because of its proximity to these locations compared to the other South India ports.
Q: Are their enough facilities – CFSs/ICDs around the ICTT -- to cater to the demand at present? What other facilities are required?
KKK: Currently we lack CFS infrastructure in and around ICTT, at present it is just sufficient to cater to the current demand but as the demand increases, we will need more such facilities. A few of these facilities are currently in various stages of completion. Other infrastructure like Free Trade Zones, bonded warehouses etc are required to trigger the growth of EXIM business around ICTT.
Q: With the completion of the dredging work, relaxation in the cabotage law, and clarity on security clearances, all the impediments for the terminal seems to have been removed. How do you see this affecting the performance of the ICTT?
KKK: We are in discussions with a few large shipping lines who have shown keen interest in connecting Cochin directly to ports in Mediterranean, Europe and Africa. This will see more Mainline services calling at Cochin by beginning 2015. We hope that ICTT will fulfill the dream of every Indian to have a successful Transshipment Terminal within the country.