The Andaman and Nicobar Islands Administration plans to create a container transshipment terminal with the South Bay, Great Nicobar Island Free Trade Warehousing Zone to provide Indian shippers with an option to the transshipment ports of Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang (Malaysia).
The Port Management Board, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, has called for an Expression of Interest (EoI) from worldwide players to engage in the private-public partnership mode terminal growth. The designers have 30 years of designing, financing, building, operating and maintaining the container terminal.
A leading container terminal official said building a transshipment terminal would cost more than $1 billion. To manage big vessels, the Great Nicobar Island has a natural depth of more than 20 m.
The proposed terminal could distribute cargo to the region, including India’s eastern coast and neighboring countries; provide repositioning services for empty containers, handle local cargo; and operate as a logistics hub, the EoI said.
Indian ports do not have sufficient infrastructure to attract big container vessels with a capability of more than 15,000 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs).
The Great Nicobar transshipment terminal could be critical for India’s trade, particularly in the South, which annually loses around 1,500 crore cargo to transshipment hubs like Colombo, Singapore and Port Klang via feeder vessels.
Anil Devli, CEO of the Indian National Shipowners ‘ Association, said Andaman and Nicobar Islands are on a competitive distance from multiple ports in the region, such as Kolkata, Chennai, and Mongla, compared to Colombo.
This will be weighed in with the price of deviation on the East-West path for ships calling Port Blair, which does not seem like a large mistake on the face of it. Devli said: “If the correct legal environment is established, attracting mainline shipping businesses to start making calls at the port would not be hard for the operator. Feeder services will follow and in a few years ‘ time there may be transhipment hub, ship repair equipment, bunkering and surveying.
CR Raghavendra, Vice-Chairman (Container Sector), Chennai and Ennore Steamer Agents Association, said a significant container terminal operator and a big worldwide shipping line should be brought together for the project to be successful. Searching for tiny shipping lines is useless.
A Nicobar Islands transshipment terminal may look appealing as the shipping line deviation time on the East-West Route will be less than an hour, while Kochi will be four hours away and Thoothukudi will be eight hours away. However, with the development of the Vallarpadam and Vizhinjam ports in Kerala as transshipment ports and a plan to establish another at Enayam in the district of Kanyakumari,