CHENNAI: The 125-year-old Chennai Port, which is the second largest port in the country after the one in Mumbai, is slowly losing its importance due to the ongoing truckers strike, according to industrial analysts in the city.
Chennai Port was a major travel port before becoming a major container port a few years ago. Its container traffic crossed one million twenty-foot equivalent (TEUs) for the first time in 2008. According to the exim fraternity, the port was the main reason for the booming industry in Chennai and contributed to the city’s development.
From handling a meager volume of cargo in the early years, consisting chiefly of imports of oil and motors and the export of groundnuts, granite and ores, it has established itself as one of the major ports in the country. In the current fiscal, the cargo handled is expected to cross 50 million tonnes here.
Car exports from this port are expected to touch 300,000 by next year.
Chennai Port handles a variety of cargo, including iron ore, coal, granite, fertilizers, petroleum products, containers, automobiles and several other types of general cargo items.
Due to the increase in container traffic, another mega container terminal is being planned here.
At present, the Chennai Container Terminal Limited of the UAE-based Dubai Port World handles the first container terminal inside the port. Each day, it handles nearly 2,500 (TEUs) containers, 1,500 of which are imported and the rest exported. About 3,000 trailers and 500 tippers are used for transporting the containers, coal, fertilizers and ores from Chennai Port.
Though there was no response from the officials on the ongoing truckers’ strike, which started on December 20, demanding good roads in North Chennai, it has forced traders to think about the alternative options.
The strike also forced automobile and manufacturing industries to think over the safe and undisturbed trade in future, possibly through other nearest ports, including the fast developing Ennore Port. In August, the Nissan-Renault joint venture has selected the Ennore Port over the Chennai Port to export cars to be produced at its upcoming plant in Oragadam, some 50 km from Chennai.
The plant, which is to start production in two years, aims to export four lakh cars annually. It is being developed with an investment of Rs 4,500 crore. According to industry experts, the fast emerging Ennore Port would cut into the revenues of the Chennai Port in the near future, if the government fails to upgrade infrastructure.