The sudden increase in volume surprised Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals

Bharat Mumbai Container Terminals (BMCT), one of the five container terminals at the state-owned Jawaharlal Nehru Port, is facing “some congestion” as it grapples with a sudden surge in export cargo due to berth closures at other terminals in the port and missed shipping schedules due to events in China.

“There’s a bit of congestion at the BMCT,” said Unmesh Wagh, vice chairman of the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Authority, which operates India’s second-largest container port. “It will ease up in 6-8 days,” he said, strongly adding that Jawaharlal Nehru Port has not faced congestion overall.

BMCT is operated by PSA International Pte Ltd, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund.

APM Terminals operates Gateway Terminals India (GTI) has temporarily closed one of its berths for an infrastructure upgrade expected to be completed in early September.
Nhava Sheva Free Port Terminal, which acquired the existing container terminal previously operated by the Port Authority, will rebuild the facility in two phases, expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2024.

The Nhava Sheva Free Port Terminal will initially operate a berth for handling container ships, which will then be further expanded. The other berth area will be widened to increase the rail span from the previous 20 meters to 30 meters.

Trade sources attributed the congestion to a Customs Authority order last October that ordered all factory-filled export containers to be routed only through the Port Authority-developed Centralized Parking Plaza (CPP) to complete customs documentation and move export crates quickly to the Terminals for loading onto waiting ships.

“It takes up to 18 hours to unload the export containers at the terminals in the port and return with import boxes,” a trade source said. “It used to take a maximum of two hours,” he added.

However, JNPA Vice Chairman Wagh contradicted this industry claim and stated as much
the centralized car park played “no role” in the congestion at BMCT.

“Since the Centralized Parking Plaza went online in 2020, its capacity utilization has never exceeded 70 percent. So there are no traffic jams in the parking lot,” Wagh said.

In fact, Wagh said the parking lot helped reduce the dwell time of exports at the Jawaharlal Nehru port by 20 percent to three hours. About 35 percent of the containers handled at the port of Jawaharlal Nehru are factory-filled export containers.

“The car park has reduced the time and cost of transporting export containers to terminals less than 5km away. From the parking lot, it only takes 30 minutes to reach the terminal gates,” he said.

“This facility is the cheapest and most convenient way to transport export containers to the terminals compared to the container freight stations,” he stressed.

The port authority will install a scanner in the parking lot to check containers, which will save more time in processing and moving containers, he said.

“The Port Authority will also build a new centralized parking area exclusively for the handling of containers bound for and coming from BMCT,” Wagh announced.

A dedicated parking lot for BMCT was deemed necessary as it will account for around 45 percent of the total container handling capacity at the Port of Jawaharlal Nehru when the second phase of the terminal becomes operational by 2025.

Wagh said trade was “calming down” after the pandemic, noting that the situation arose due to a lack of “good shipyard management” by BMCT.

“The sudden surge in volume at BMCT is due to delayed ship schedules resulting from developments in China and berth closures at other terminals in the Port of Jawaharlal Nehru. BMCT will need to mobilize more machinery and manpower to strengthen its storage facility,” he noted.

Trade, meanwhile, has asked the customs office for permission to “temporarily” store buffer containers at nearby container freight stations (CFSs) until the situation improves.

Buffer containers are containers that arrive directly from the factory loaded with export goods and go to the waiting yard (buffer yard) of the central parking lot for the customs documentation process.

A delay in the arrival of ships at Jawaharlal Nehru Port along with a sudden increase in export containers have caused heavy strain on facilities at the Centralized Parking Plaza’s buffer yard, affecting the delivery of containers, trade sources said.

In October 2020, as part of its efforts to facilitate business operations, the Port Authority opened a centralized parking lot for container tractors with duty facilitation.

1,538 tractor units can be parked at the same time on the 45-hectare car park.

The plaza was built to integrate the parking of tractor-trailers with factory-filled export containers in one location instead of multiple locations previously. This helps with the integration of document processing by customs.

The place is managed with a real-time parking management system and has on-site Wi-Fi deployment. Personnel at each entry gate and entry lane will guide the tractor units to the appropriate entry gates and lanes for immigration formalities to ensure that the tractor units do not have to wait in line for entry.

As soon as the customs officer has inspected and cleared the container, the semi-trailer truck is assigned a parking space.

When the Let Export Order (LEO) is issued, the trailer truck can leave the CPP through the respective exit gates.

The Plaza system is also designed to facilitate the movement of container trucks on port roads and help respective terminals better plan their truck movements. Source; ET Infra

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