Foreign Ship Reaches Kollam Port
For the fishermen who were going to sea with their small fishing boats from Thankasseri at 7 am, it was a rare sight- a large ship with two huge cranes painted in white with an Indian flag on the pole being expertly tugged by newly acquired tug boats MT Kerala and MT Chaliyar through the ‘S’ path marked by buoys between the artificial breakwaters.
By anchoring MV Alina, a 145-metre mammoth Antigua registered ship, painted white at the top and navy blue at the base, the Kollam port has crossed a milestone of sorts as it was the first foreign ship to reach the port.
“It is a milestone for the port as we could clear the customs cargo here only. With this, more ship owners would be willing to bring their vessels here,” Ashwini Prathap, Port Officer, said.
Since the inauguration of its coastal shipping project in November last year, the port has seen only smaller domestic vessels carrying mostly tiles and occasionally rice from Gujarat. Alina has a 15-member crew led by Ukranian captain Zakharuk Igor. The manoeuvering of ships using tug boats took only one-and-a-half hour. According to the master of one of the tug boats, the favourable weather shortened the time.
But this time, the two cargoes from Rotterdam, Holland are of some significance. One is a huge cargo that is too big for a standard container size and can be categorised as Over Dimension Cargo (ODC) for the VSSC. For the purpose, it has used ships and ports complying with the stringent International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code). The port officials did not reveal the content of the cargo but said that some of the parts are as long as 20 metres.
They are clearly aware of the task at hand- to bring it on the ground and take it out from the port compound is a challenge. For the purpose they are demolishing a part of the port’s gate.
This is the first time that VSSC cargoes had to travel less on the road, thanks to the customs cargo handling facilities and 174- metre-long wharf which can accommodate ships like Alina. In fact, Kollam port became the first minor port in Kerala to handle ODC cargo. Bulk cargoes usually comes to Kochi or Chennai port and from there it gets transported to the destination on road. Considering the restriction on the road movement it would be a time consuming and expensive affair. Once the Vizhinjam port develops the container handling capabilities VSSC can avail of the facility nearer to its base.
Alina has also brought a bulk container handling crane which has been a long pending demand of the Kollam port.
The crane, bought from manufacturer Liebherr, Austria, would help the port to handle bulk containers up to 40 tonnes. So far the port was dependant on cranes leased by Tamil Nadu- based High Reach Cranes on high rent. Port officials believe that with the arrival of the crane, the port would see more such container vessels. Alina would leave the port on April 6 once the cargo gets lifted out and would head to Malaysia.