Cochin port unions are concerned about the drop in container throughput

The Cochin Port Joint Trade Union Forum, a multi-union federation at the Port Authority of Cochin, has expressed concern over a drop in container throughput at the Vallarpadam International Container Transshipment Terminal. Unions said while the prime minister’s office makes efforts to convert Vallarpadam into an international transshipment facility, volume at the terminal has fallen to 6.95 lakh TEUs in 2022-23, compared with 7.35 lakh TEUs in 2021-22.

Union forum general organizer CD Nandakumar said the container terminal has seen organic growth of eight to 10 percent in recent years, but the decline over the past year is a setback. He also claimed that around 85% of the transhipment is domestic, although Vallarpadam is slated to be an international terminal.

The drop in freight volumes comes as the Port Authority continues to spend around £125-130m a year on maintenance dredgers and foregoes around £60m a year in concessions on ship-related charges. The levies are waived or concessions offered to poach more ships from its nearby competitors.

The union forum also quoted the Union Shipping Minister answering a question from Elamaram Karim, MP, saying the Port Authority had waived more than £5.77 billion on ship-related charges over the past 10 years. The port has also tried to market the terminal facilities and boost business development.

The unions said the Port Authority must obtain a minimum container throughput guarantee, although they claim they are preparing with the support of people for a strong protest to shed light on the situation. The unions also claimed that the Port Authority was only helping the container terminal operator.

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