Congestion at the Port of Mundra last week, fueled by disruption from hurricanes along India’s west coast, has severely limited shipping companies’ ability to maximize exports amid mounting vessel capacity utilization problems.
According to industry sources, the container terminals at the private port — the flagship company of Adani Group — have tightened the allotted time for cargo arrivals to ease ships’ congestion.
This means that “forwarders face the challenge of connecting all planned loads,” said a ship’s agent in Mundra, Shippers face significant delays for exports that are already in port or in transit from inland locations.
An expert report from Maersk pointed out that the ship could no longer accept any more cargo in port. And last week, Maersk urged its customers to pick up empty containers more quickly – within 12 hours of allocation – to expedite container flow.
The Kandla Mundra Container Transport Welfare Association, which represents supporters in the area, has also raised serious concerns about the congestion in Mundra. It said: “Until the processes are streamlined, delays in travel and (travel) cancellations may continue to occur.”
Also the container train traffic to/from Mundra was affected by the congestion at the station and some service restrictions imposed by the railway authorities.
Given the extent of the backlog, local shippers and other trade sources generally assumed it would take the busiest port at least a week to recover from the effects of the cyclone-induced shutdown and get supply chains back to normal.
But a Mumbai-based freight forwarder told it: “A lot of export goods that were landed in the port weeks ago are still stuck there. With some ships canceled due to docking delays, planning shiploads is a challenge.”
Mundra has already faced significant increases in volume due to the diversion of cargo from Nhava Sheva (JNPT), where capacity has been scaled back due to the closure of a berth for equipment upgrades.
Meanwhile, APM Terminals Pipavav, which has been bearing the brunt of the cyclone disruption, has been boosted by a fresh weekly call from the CIX (China-India Express) route. The connection started with the MS Wan Hai 360 I arrived in Pipavav last week.
Jointly operated by Hapag-Lloyd, Wan Hai Lines and Evergreen Lines, CIX uses a fleet of eight ships on a rotation from Pipavav, Nhava Sheva, Port Klang, Singapore, Kaochsiung, Hong Kong and Shekou.
Stakeholders are betting on Pipavav’s volume potential by transporting ceramic tiles, handicrafts and other heavy building materials, as well as agricultural products. Well-known Asian feeder line Sima Marine has also recently expanded its India-Gulf service to Pipavav to achieve “extended handling reach”.