Nhava Sheva Truck Congestion

Container truck operators at India’s Nhava Sheva port/JNPT are becoming increasingly frustrated by gate delays that could have costly repercussions for the trade.

The Nhava Sheva Container Operators’ Welfare Association (NSCOWA), which represents trailer operators handling movements in the harbour, said the slowdowns had already meant some export containers missed scheduled ocean connections and import boxes overstayed on the dock.

“It is taking around 10 to 12 hours for drivers to reach the entry gate,” said NSCOWA, and urged stakeholders to intervene to fix the congestion issues.

Nhava Sheva’s newest terminal operator, PSA Mumbai (BMCT), has borne the brunt of long truck queues in recent days, but the Singapore-based company claimed “the sudden emergence of cargo flow disruption” primarily resulted from ships bunching outside allotted arrival window slots after being delayed at their previous ports of call.

PSA said: “We are taking appropriate measures to ease the congestion by deploying additional resources.”

And, while acknowledging late vessel arrivals had impacted normal gate operations, the operator claimed the landside woes and volume swings were more to do with the port’s failure to complete its road network project, mandated under the concession deal.

“We urge JNPT to expedite the construction and handover of dedicated road access to BMCT on top priority, which will ease the congestion,” it said.

As an interim measure to mitigate gate delays, the port authority suggested PSA divert some road movements to a road alongside the rail connection into the terminal. But PSA said this was a narrow access lane that would complicate two-way trailer flows.

PSA Mumbai began operations in early 2018, with 2.4m teu capacity and the terminal now hosts over a dozen regular sailings, available data shows.

As a result of service additions, PBMCT has seen a significant rise in vessel calls in the current fiscal year (2022-23), also thanks to some ad-hoc ship visits.  From April through November, it handled 478 vessels, versus 281 last year, a 70% year-on-year increase, according to port data.

“The trade should expect sporadic congestion issues across terminals until road developments are complete,” a local freight forwarder told The Loadstar. And given that the bulk of freight to/from JNPT — pegged at 85% — is handled by road underscores the concern for industry stakeholders.

PSA Mumbai ended fiscal year 2021-22 with 1.24m teu, up 33% year on year. It racked up some 492,000 teu in the first eight months of 2022-23, a 42% jump, while volumes flowing through the other JNPT terminals either slowed or declined.

Its phase II expansion broke ground in April  and is targeted for completion in 2025.

Able to service containerships of up to 18,000 teu, PSA Mumbai is seen as the growth engine for JNPT, as the government-run port faces rising competition from Adani Group’s flagship facility, Mundra, some 350 miles up the west coast.

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