Handling bulk cargo, which comes around just 1.5 percent of the total cargo handled at the Cochin Port, has brought shame to the Cochin Port.
This prompted the Cochin Port Trust to constitute a subcommittee to discuss the matter with the officials, labour representatives and other stake holders and find a solution.
The issue discussed at the last meeting of the Board of Trustees of Cochin Port.“Of the total cargo handled at Cochin Port, 70 per cent is oil, 25 per cent is containerised cargo and the remaining five percent is bulk cargo, including fertilizers, timber, coal and cement etc.
It has been noted that the issue of high charges arise in the cargo handled by the labourers under the Kerala Headload Workers’ Welfare Board (KHWWB), which comes just 1.5 per cent of the total cargo handled at the port,” sources said.
Despite its geographical advantages, high handling charges have always been a setback to the CPT’s growth.
Though the Port Trust authorities have often made it clear that charges exacted are in accordance with
the rate stipulated in the Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) regulations, the charges often go up three to five fold, tarnishing the image of Kochi among international business community.
The CPT authorities attribute it to causes such as storage, packing, loading and unloading on which they have no control.
Recently, owing to high handling charges, the Union Ministry of Fertilisers had decided to shift fertiliser import for the Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd (FACT) from Kochi to Tuticorin.
The cost of handling fertilizers in Kochi is `1,726 per tonne, while the charge at Tuticorin for the same is `848. None of the ports in India exact more than `900 per tonne.
A comparison of charges at Cochin and Tuticorin ports shows that the FACT can reduce its import expenditure by 50 per cent if it is handled at Tuticorin.
In 2011 November, around 24,000 tonnes of urea and 27,000 tonnes of potash remained unclear at the godowns for the want of labourers.
The Kerala Headload Workers’ Welfare Board was not able to provide enough labourers to clear the load.
The reason was compartmentalisation of labourers into various water-tight pools within the Welfare Board, where over 2,500 workers are registered.
Despite the lack of work for workers in other pools, they could not be spared by the Board resulting in shortage amidst plenty. The Welfare Board was able to supply only around 40 workers on an average against a demand of 120.