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i-maritime News Service

Foreign shipping line seeks temporary Cabotage law exemption - 2012-06-04

A foreign shipping line is believed to have approached the Director General of Shipping for temporary relaxation of the Cabotage law to enable it to operate vessels from Vallarpadam container terminal.

A person familiar with the development said one of the foreign shipping lines which is operating the NCX service linking India-Singapore and China, has been trying for permission to move containers from Kochi to Nhava Sheva in view of the congestion at JN Port. However, this could not be confirmed. The shipping line has sought the permission to drop containers bound for Nava Sheva at ICTT — Vallarpadam on an ad hoc arrangement to maintain its schedule to China rather than waiting for a berth at Nava Sheva. These boxes could be carried by the next vessel on the same NCX service from Kochi to Nava Sheva. Currently, such transhipments to another Indian port are not permitted due to Cabotage restrictions. However, as per the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act, the Director General of Shipping can waive the Cabotage Law temporarily, which was done earlier for the benefit of shipping lines. Once the mainline shipping lines start using ICTT Vallarpadam as their hub, they could bring more direct mainlines to Kochi instead of Colombo, thereby benefitting the trade in the region with faster connectivity and direct services, said a shipping source.

Even after more than a year of commissioning, the ICTT is utilising only 35 per cent of its capacity. The terminal has a capacity to handle one million TEUs. Last year, the terminal had handled only 337,053 TEUs. However, in the current fiscal up to May 22, it handled only 42,500 TEUs against 45,456 TEUs in the corresponding period last year. While the overall traffic of Kochi Port had registered a 16 per cent growth, the growth was negative in ICTT. The port is awaiting necessary clarifications from the Government on cabotage for facilitating foreign feeder vessels to carry transhipment containers between Vallarpadam and other Indian ports. The procedures laid down by the Government recently for handling transhipment containers at ICTT for the first time would also enable the terminal to attract more cargo.

Source : Hindu Business Line