‘Nokkukooli’ spectre looms over Beypore Port
‘Nokkukooli’ has reared its ugly head once again, this time by hindering work at the Beypore Port which the state government has been striving hard to develop as a major port of call.
KOZHIKODE: ‘Nokkukooli’ has reared its ugly head once again, this time by hindering work at the Beypore Port which the state government has been striving hard to develop as a major port of call by attracting container ships. For a state with a 580-km-long coastline that is pinning its hopes big on emerging as a maritime story, this is one story that can really put paid to its development shout.
While ICCT, Vallarpadam has no such issue and it is unlikely Vizhinjam would ever face anything approximating this, container movement at Beypore port has been badly hit with trade unions disrupting loading and unloading of containers.
There are 166 trade union affiliated labourers attached to the port engaged in assorted work. And the demand is an exorbitant one - that they be paid R4,000 per container coming in and going out of Beypore. The demand is seen as unreasonable by the industry as Beypore Port has been paying the labourers R250 per container 'handled’ for the past seven years. This, even as the labourers play no major role in loading and unloading of the containers. Reason: They are handled by cranes operated by the port staff.
Effectively, what this has done is spoil the port administration’s decision to seek more fund for development works from the Centre.
“We cannot accept the demand of the trade unions. In no way, the government will allow the unions to put brakes on the development of the port. The administration has ordered for police protection and the ports can take the help of other workers to resume container movement,” District Collector U V Jose told Express. He said it was after much effort container ships began looking at Beypore as a viable option.
“A cargo ship is anchored in the outer sea waiting for clearance. We cannot delay it as it will cost us and the freight operators big in demurrage charges,” said Port officer Ashwini Prathap.
Port union (CITU) leader T Moitheen Koya said the unions do not want to block the development of the port. “We are fully aware of the necessity in developing Beypore Port. The demand of C4000 per container is high and unjust. We are ready for further discussions with the port administrations and will settle for a fair revision in charges,” he said.
Dredging works to accommodate more container vessels are on at the port apart from extension of the existing berth and a 100-metre-long dedicated wharf to handle more container vessels.
It was after a long lull that the state government started regular container ship service at Beypore in April 2017. Earlier, the first container ship had docked at the port in October 2015.
Five minor ports to boost cargo movement
The Kerala Government has launched a project to develop five minor ports in the state to shift cargo movement to coastal shipping. The five minor ports are Kollam, Alappuzha, Ponnani, Beypore and Azheekal.