Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, the company that operates India’s largest state-owned container gateway and the country’s second-biggest, said it handled 6.05 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in fiscal 2023, more than since the port began operating port three decades ago.
Container volume handled at JNPA increased by 6.45 percent in FY23 from 5.68 million TEUs a year earlier.
Total cargo (both container and non-container) handled at the port near Mumbai rose 9.87 percent to 83.49 million tonnes (mt), from 75.99 tonnes a year earlier.
JNPA Chairman Sanjay Sethi attributed the record achievement to the combined efforts of port workers, including the Transport Department led by Girish Thomas, and the other stakeholders.
The record container volumes came despite the privatization of the port’s self-managed container terminal via the public-private partnership (PPP) route during the year, leaving the facility in a state of flux.
“We haven’t fired on all guns all year long,” said Unmesh Wagh, vice chairman of the JNPA.
This was the year, Wagh said, when the Port Authority handed over its self-operated container terminal to a private operator. “The performance of this terminal, which now has a capacity of 1.5 million TEU, was nothing; Only a few lakh TEU were processed in FY23. Also, Gateway Terminals India Pvt Ltd (GTI), one of the five terminals operating at the Port of JN, temporarily closed one of its berths for an infrastructure upgrade towards the end of the year. If it weren’t for that, we would have done a lot better,” Wagh said, noting that the port was still seeing “great growth” of 6.45 percent in container volume.
Among the five facilities operated at JN Port, Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals Pvt Ltd (BMCT), the terminal operated by PSA International Pte Ltd, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, saw the highest growth of 37.72 percent and handled 1.714 million TEUs in FY23 from 1.244 million TEUs a year earlier.
Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal Pvt Ltd (NSICT), the facility operated by Dubai’s DP World, handled 1.096 million TEUs, up 15.73 percent from the 9,47,887 TEUs handled in FY22.
Nhava Sheva (India) Gateway Terminal (NSIGT), also operated by DP World, recorded a 4.14 percent drop in volume to 1.137 million TEUs in FY23 compared to 1.186 million TEUs a year earlier.
Gateway Terminals India Pvt Ltd (GTI), a joint venture between APM Terminals Management BV, the container port operations unit of Danish shipping and transport giant AP Moller-Maersk A/S, and Container Corporation of India Ltd (Concor), was up 1 percent decrease in volume from 1.865 million TEU in the previous year to 1.846 million TEU in FY23.
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Container Terminal (JNPCT) handled 2,05,907 TEUs before it was operated by the Port Authority and 49,709 TEUs after it was taken over by the consortium JM Baxi Ports & Logistics Ltd and CMA Terminals Holding (total 2,55,616 TEU in FY 23 from 4,40,210 TEU in FY 22).
The shallow water berth held 160 TEU.
Looking ahead, Wagh said the port will see much higher growth in FY24 by “firing on all cylinders.”
He explained the optimism by saying that the port’s self-operated container terminal, now operated by an equal joint venture between JM Baxi Ports & Logistics and CMA Terminals Holding, will be able to handle more volume through modernization and efficiency gains .
In addition, the dedicated berth will act as a feeder for export-import (EXIM) cargo for the handling of vessels operating exclusively on coastal routes. The shallow berth will be able to handle ad hoc ship calls and smaller vessels that the larger terminals in the port are not ready for.
“This will give further impetus to growth. With improved efficiency, strength and new PPP agreements, we will see higher traffic growth this year,” he said.
The coastal and shallow water berths were recently awarded to JM Baxi Ports & Logistics as part of the government’s privatization program.
The other factors that will support volume growth, according to Wagh, are the concreting of the roads leading to the port and the construction of a bypass bridge at Karal, which is expected to be completed in 2-3 months.
Also, some of the units in the port’s Special Economic Zone (SEZ), such as the 80-acre Free Trade and Storage Zone developed by DP World, will begin full-fledged operations this year and bring own cargo to the port.
Wagh said French container shipping company CMA CGM SA, the third largest in the world, is exploring the possibility of conducting container handling operations from JN Port.
“If CMA CGM handles the transhipment, it will increase throughput at the Port of JN, which currently accounts for less than 1 percent of the total,” Wagh said.
JN Port is primarily a gateway port handling export and import containers for Indian shippers.
The Port Authority will also add more (cooled) sockets as needed.
“We have enough reefer slots. A few days ago there was an uneven distribution of refrigerated containers, which caused some discrepancy. That will be corrected. We will add more reefer slots as needed,” said Wagh.
“We are on the verge of a quantum leap in transport. Of course, this brings with it challenges in the hinterland. But we’re set for growth,” Wagh added.