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November 30, 2023

Slow roadworks driving port congestion and frustration for JNPT truckers

Gate delays that could have severe effects on commerce are making container truck drivers at India’s Nhava Sheva port/JNPT more and more irate.

The Nhava Sheva Container Owners’ Welfare Association (NSCOWA), which represents trailer operators managing operations in the harbor, claimed that the delays had already resulted in some import boxes overstaying on the dock and some export containers missing scheduled ocean connections.

“It is taking around 10 to 12 hours for drivers to reach the entry gate,” said NSCOWA, and urged stakeholders to intervene to fix the congestion issues.

Long truck lines have recently plagued Nhava Sheva’s newest terminal operator, PSA Mumbai (BMCT), but the Singapore-based company claimed “the sudden emergence of cargo flow disruption” was primarily caused by ships congregating outside designated arrival window slots after being delayed at their previous ports of call.

“We are deploying additional resources as necessary to reduce the congestion,” the PSA stated.

While recognizing that late vessel arrivals had an impact on regular gate operations, the operator asserted that the port’s failure to finish the road network project required by the concession agreement was more to blame for the landside problems and volume swings.

“We urge JNPT to expedite dedicated road access construction and handover to BMCT on top priority, which will reduce the congestion,” the statement read.

The port authority proposed PSA redirect certain car movements to a road next to the rail connection into the terminal as a temporary remedy to reduce gate delays. PSA, however, warned that this was a constrained access lane that would impede two-way trailer flows.

According to data available, PSA Mumbai started operations in early 2018 with a 2.4 million teu capacity, and the port now accommodates more than a dozen regular sailings.

PBMCT has had a considerable increase in vessel calls in the current fiscal year (2022-23) as a result of the extension of services, as well as some ad hoc ship visits. According to port data, it processed 478 vessels from April through November, up from 281 during the same period last year, a 70% rise.

A local freight forwarder informed The Loadstar that until road developments are finished, the trade can anticipate periodic congestion problems across terminals. Furthermore, the fact that 85% of freight to and from JNPT is transported by road highlights the issue for business stakeholders.

1.24 million teu, up 33% year over year, were PSA Mumbai’s fiscal year 2021–2022 totals. In the first eight months of 2022–2023, it amassed almost 492,000 teu, a 42% increase, whereas volumes going through the other JNPT ports either slowed down or decreased.

Construction on its phase II expansion, which is scheduled to be finished in 2025, began in April.

As the government-run port faces increasing competition from the Adani Group’s flagship facility, Mundra, about 350 miles up the west coast, PSA Mumbai, which can service containerships of up to 18,000 teu, is seen as the growth engine for JNPT.

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