Mundra disruptions weaken service reliability, carriers say

Container ships serving Indian trade have expressed increasing frustration with supply chain problems at the Port of Mundra.

The country’s busy trade corridor continues to recover from the effects of a week-long port closure caused by Cyclone Biparjoy.

Alongside widespread ship halts on the coast, the disruption was more pronounced in Mundra as it cites the key shipping calls for India’s container trade.

The Container Shipping Lines Association (CSLA) said the congestion at Mundra had severely affected the flow of ships, which inevitably impacted schedules.

It pointed out that ships had experienced delays in docking, averaging about 40 hours, after the port resumed quayside operations on June 17, and Sunil Vaswani, the association’s chief executive, said it was “a chaotic one.” The situation at the berths in Mundra has adversely affected the reliability of the transport services.

Citing multiple drops in productivity, the CSLA said that at the height of the congestion, the number of container lifts dropped to 21 from an average of 27 to 28 movements per hour. However, Mr Vaswani added: “This has now improved somewhat and stands at around 25 movements/hour.”

However, he said landside congestion and disruptions to train service continued to pose significant scalability challenges for large-scale vessel calls on key trade routes from India, while temporary Indian Railways service restrictions had dealt a blow to export cargoes from Mundra.

“Some 80 trains are in preparation, with the average number of trains handled per day falling from 26-27 to 21,” Vaswani said. “Given that Mundra’s volume is essentially inland, late train arrivals mean fewer cargo connections for vessels already affected by docking delays.” Inland container depot volume accounts for more than 30% of Mundra’s cargo.

In addition, according to the transport group, congestion has forced several vessels to bypass Mundra to offload cargo at other ports in the region, typically resulting in longer transportation routes and additional costs for cargo owners.

Intermodal railway companies including Container Corporation of India (Concor) and Gateway Distriparks have advised their customers to expect disruption to freight services at Mundra due to the service restrictions. Gateway warns them, “We are asking that you plan your freight accordingly and adjust shipping schedules.” Similarly, Concor has urged its customers to “consider other first-mile options” to keep their export shipments flowing.

The Adani Group’s flagship port, Mundra, is vital to India’s container supply chains. According to industry data, about 610,500 teu were handled last month, which is more than the 528,000 teu handled by Nhava Sheva (JNPT).

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