Port of Mundra Photo: Adani Ports

Mundra Port, India’s top container handler, continues to grapple with cargo backlogs created during cyclone-related supply chain disruption that began last month.

According to industry sources, a major portion of the import containers that arrived at the height of the logjam have not been retrieved for last-mile delivery.

The delays inevitably put cargo owners at considerable risk of additional charges of port ground rent. Then there is the carrier levy of demurrage/detention charges on containers that overstay the free time window for storage or return of equipment.

Also, long-dwelling import boxes facing hefty penalties often run the risk of being abandoned by cargo interests, mostly in the case of low-value cargo.

Some ad-hoc relief, by way of five days extra free time, was provided by the port authority in the immediate aftermath of Cyclone Biparjoy, which forced all ports along India’s Gujarat coastline to halt operations for almost a week.

“We are in talks with Mundra Port for extended free times,” said an official at the Association of Container Train Operators (ACTO), and cargo stakeholders are pressing for an expeditious gate-out of stranded boxes.

Sources said June imports were still languishing in the port, while containers that were stacked later had received clearance priority due to their ease of retrieval.

“The port is promising that all June containers will be cleared soon and is targeting to reach normal eight-to-10 days’ dwell in another week or so,” the private rail operators’ group added.

Mundra operator Adani Ports recently claimed the port had reinstated all operations at full speed, adding: “Container movement has once again picked up pace as the port readies itself to berth vessels from various parts of the world.”

Rail loads or inland container depot (ICD) volumes account for some 30% of Mundra’s box traffic. ACTO and Adani Ports were at loggerheads last year over extra user fees for container trains operating to/from the port. Adani finally jettisoned the move after several rounds of talks in the presence of Indian railway authorities.

Mundra is critical to India’s containerised trade. Its four Adani-managed terminals saw 1.4m teu in Q1 (April-June) of fiscal year 2023-24, with exports at some 512,000 teu, imports at 490,000 teu and transhipment moves of 407,000 teu, according to available data.

Mundra has seen several mega-containership visits in recent months, including MSC Hamburg, with a nominal capacity of 15,908 teu, and the 13,892 teu APL Raffles.

You can contact the writer at [email protected].

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