Mundra Port is still struggling to clear the container jam caused by the cyclone

Mundra Port, India’s leading container terminal, continues to struggle with cargo backlogs caused by the cyclone-related supply chain disruption since last month.

According to industry sources, a majority of the import containers that arrived at the height of the congestion were not picked up for last mile delivery.

The delays inevitably expose cargo owners to a significant risk of paying additional port ground rental charges. Then there is the carrier’s fee in the form of stand/detention fees for containers that exceed the free window for storing or returning the equipment.

In addition, durable import cartons that face heavy penalties are often at risk of being abandoned by freight prospects, especially in the case of low-value freight.

Immediately following Cyclone Biparjoy, which forced all ports along the Gujarat coast of India to suspend operations for nearly a week, the Port Authority provided an ad hoc relief in the form of five days of additional time off.

“We are in talks with Mundra Port for extended free periods,” said an official with the Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO), and freight stakeholders are pushing for a speedy ejection of the stranded boxes.

Sources said June imports were still stagnant at the port, while containers stacked later received priority clearance due to their ease of collection.

“The port promises that all June containers will be dispatched soon and aims to reach the normal length of stay of eight to 10 days in about a week,” the group of private rail operators added.

Mundra operator Adani Ports recently claimed that the port has resumed all operations at full speed, adding: “Container throughput has picked up speed again as the port prepares to dock ships from different parts of the world.”

Railloads or inland container depot (ICD) volumes account for about 30% of freight traffic in Mundra. ACTO and Adani Ports were in dispute last year over additional usage fees for container trains running to/from the port. Adani eventually scrapped the move after several rounds of talks in the presence of Indian railway authorities.

Mundra is vital to India’s container trade. The four terminals managed by Adani recorded 1.4 million TEUs throughput in the first quarter (April-June) of the 2023/24 financial year, with exports of around 512,000 TEUs, imports of 490,000 TEUs and transshipment movements of 407,000 TEUs, according to available data.

Mundra has seen several mega container ship visits in recent months including MSC Hamburgwith a nominal capacity of 15,908 TEU and 13,892 TEU APL Raffles.

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