During the past one and a half years VO Chidambaranar (VOC) port has shown improved results in terms of traffic handled, efficiency parameters and financial parameters. During the first eight months (April-November 2015) of the current fiscal, the port saw an increase of 18.81 per cent in volumes over the corresponding period of 2014-15. Capacity utilisation level also increased from 68.1 per cent in 2013-14 to 77.07 per cent in 2014-15.
The port has several projects on the anvil, ranging from development and mechanisation of terminals and berths, improving hinterland connectivity and deepening of berths. The development of North Cargo Berths (NCBs) II, III and IV is expected to increase the share of dry bulk cargo handled at the port. These three berths will together add over 25 million tonnes (mt) of capacity. The conversion of Berth No. 8 to a container terminal is also under progress.
Cargo traffic at VOC grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.95 per cent during 2010-11 to 2014-15. In 2014-15, the port handled 32.41 mt of cargo, witnessing year-on-year growth of 13.16 per cent. In the current fiscal year (2015-16), the port handled 24.75 mt during April-November 2015, against 20.83 mt handled in the corresponding period of 2014-15. During 2010-11 to 2011-12, the actual traffic exceeded the ministry target. Thereafter, from 2012-13 the port has performed a little below the target set by the ministry. During the first eight months of 2015-16, the port has achieved 67.25 per cent of the target.
Cargo-wise, dry bulk constituted the maximum share of total traffic at 56.65 per cent, followed by containers (34 per cent). The share of dry bulk in total traffic at VOC port increased at a CAGR of 9.14 per cent from 12.94 mt in 2010-11 to 18.36 mt in 2014-15. In terms of commodities, containers and coal are the predominant commodities accounting for almost 60 per cent share of VOC’s traffic. Container traffic grew at a CAGR of 7.8 per cent in the five-year period.
The total number of vessels handled by the port fell slightly from 1,402 in 2010-11 to 1,380 in 2014-15. The majority of the inbound and outbound cargo at the port is evacuated through roads. In 2014-15, 99.5 per cent of the outbound cargo was evacuated through roads. In the case of inbound cargo, around 65 per cent of the cargo was evacuated by roads, 28 per cent by conveyors and the remaining through pipelines and railways.
Capacity at VOC grew at a CAGR of 11.67 per cent while the capacity utilisation rates fell from 95.12 per cent in 2010-11 to 77 per cent in 2014-15.
The port’s efficiency improved in 2014-15 over the previous fiscal, reflected in falling average turnaround time and pre-berthing detention time, and in increases in average output per ship, per berth-day. The per tonne handling cost at the port also fell from Rs 80.79 in 2013-14 to Rs 70.66 in 2014-15. On the financial front, there was an improvement during 2014-15 over the previous year. The operating ratio also fell sharply from 61.37 per cent in 2013-14 to 49.06 per cent in 2014-15.
The port has actively embarked on technology-related initiatives. In August 2015, the port installed radiological detection equipment at the port entry gates. In September 2015, the port also installed a 100 kW solar power plant. Further, VOC is planning to install container digital exchange (CODEX) system at the port. In October 2015, an MoU was signed between Kale Logistics Limited and the Tuticorin CFS Association to install CODEX at the port.
Ongoing and upcoming projects
VOC is undertaking several projects to augment capacity. At present, there are five ongoing projects, which are expected to add over 30 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of capacity by 2018. These relate to the construction of berths and container terminals, improving port connectivity, deepening of channels and berths, etc. The port is equally focusing on mechanisation and modernisation.
Overall, projects worth Rs 21 billion and involving a capacity addition of more than 35 mt are in the pipeline. The focus is not only on capacity augmentation, but on modernisation and mechanisation as well on streamlining business processes and providing hassle-free services to its users. These projects will enable the port to realise its vision, which is to be a pioneer in providing high quality, efficient cargo handling facilities on the eastern coast of south India. However, timely execution of these projects will be key to achieving the aim.