KOCHI: The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Cochin port hard with the cargo volume dropping by as much as 33.73 per cent in April-June compared to the same period last year. While the crude oil shipment dropped by 48 per cent, the container volume fell by 35 per cent in the first quarter of the current financial year.
M Beena, chairperson of the Cochin Port Trust (CPT), revealed the data while addressing a webinar organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Cochin (ICCI), on the topic 'Cochin Port Trust - Strategies Post COVID Era'. On the positive side, there are signs of recovery with June seeing a big pickup in business, she said. COVID-19 has affected not only CPT but other ports as well. But CPT was hit badly because the bulk cargo here is oil and containers, Beena said.
The most pressing disadvantage for CPT is the lack of industrialised hinterland. The wage rates in Willingdon Island is very high. This is one of the major limitations faced by CPT, the chairperson said. The Union government has been taking steps necessary to market the port as a transshipment terminal, having invested around Rs 1,700 crore to build the terminal (including road and rail). The DP World has invested Rs 1,100 crore for the same.
Beena cited the draft as another limitation at the port. While a draft of 14.5 metres was huge in 2010, over the past 10 years the Colombo port has gone ahead and the draft there stands at 18 metres. Deepening the channel further is an important requirement, she said.