Ro-Ro Cargo: KPL’s expansion plans

KPL’s expansion plans

Kamarajar Port Limited (KPL), erstwhile Ennore Port Limited, is the first corporatised port in India. It has taken a number of initiatives to increase its cargo-handling capacity. One such initiative was the development of a dedicated roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) terminal in 2011. This terminal was set up to cater to growing automobile exports from the Chennai-Bengaluru region.

The ro-ro terminal has a car parking yard with a capacity of 10,000 cars. This is located about 2 km away from the ro-ro berth. KPL recently commissioned another car parking facility with a capacity of 5,000 cars. Besides, there is a third parking yard with a capacity of 2,500 cars located behind the berth.

As there is no congestion at the port and no restrictions on the movement of car carriers, the port attracts a great deal of automobile traffic as it offers a seamless journey from the originating point at the factory to the parking destination at the port. As a result, the loading rate is as high as 4,500 cars every 20 hours. The terminal caters to a number of major car manufacturers including Nissan Motors, Toyota, Honda and Ford.

Ro-ro traffic at Kamarajar port showed an upward trend in the period between 2010-11 and 2014-15. It increased from 54,264 cars in 2010-11 to 215,071 cars in 2014-15, registering a strong compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41 per cent. In 2015-16 (till December 2015), the terminal handled about 157,000 cars.

In a bid to attract more ro-ro traffic, the port recently reduced vessel-related charges by about 40 per cent. It is also exploring the possibility of transporting other vehicles such as Terex front-end loaders. Besides this, it has received a proposal from two interested parties for moving cars from Chennai to Mumbai via the coastal route. KPL’s board has already approved the proposal, but the two parties are yet to take a final decision.

In order to cater to a growing number of customers, KPL is planning to develop another ro-ro terminal at an estimated cost of over Rs 3 billion. The proposed terminal will have a capacity to accommodate 250,000 to 300,000 cars per year. The construction work on the project is expected to commence in July 2016.

Further, KPL is taking initiatives to improve road and rail connectivity to the port. To this end, it has completed Phase I of the Outer Ring Road Project, which will link the port with Minjur railway station. Phase II of the project is currently under implementation; in terms of physical progress, about 80 per cent of the work has been completed. Another road – the northern port access road – is being planned by the state government. Though this was conceived about 10-15 years ago, it is still in the initial planning stage as the internal rate of return projected in the original detailed project report (DPR) was very low, at only 3 per cent.

At present, the railway link between the port and Attipattu Pudu Nagar railway station has a limited handling capacity of seven rakes per day. The North Port Rail Connectivity Project, linking the port with Minjur railway station, has also been proposed, and the DPR is awaiting final approval from Indian Railways. The land acquisition request for the project has already been submitted to the state government. Meanwhile, KPL is also considering the option of acquiring industrial land at competitive rates in order to complete the land acquisition process within the next one year. If all goes according to plan, the upcoming rail and road connectivity projects are likely to be completed by 2019.

Apart from infrastructure development, KPL is also taking initiatives to improve the environmental quality at the port as 80 per cent of the total cargo handled is dusty cargo. It has installed a monitoring station to measure the quality of air on a real-time basis. The monitoring station is connected to the central server of the state pollution control board. KPL has also deployed an automated air spray system. Further, the port has set a target to generate 20 MW of renewable energy, 18 MW of wind power and 2 MW of solar power in the next five years. Of the total wind power generation, about 15 MW will be generated and this will be consumed jointly by V.O. Chidambaranar and Chennai ports, 2 MW will be generated for internal consumption and the remaining 1 MW will be partially (0.6 MW) consumed by its build-operate-transfer operator, Ennore Tank Terminals Private Limited. w

Based on a presentation by V. Krishna Samy, General Manager, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, KPL