Facility is expected to be operational in a couple of months

On the heels of opening freight transportation through the inland waterways, a container yard that will act as a buffer between the export and import cargo will soon break ground at the Kottayam port, country’s first inland container depot (ICD) project.

Officials said the port authorities were awaiting an intimation from the Customs authorities denotifying a four-acre property in the port’s vicinity for opening the storage area. The facility is expected to be operational in a couple of months.

“The yard will help repositioning and reusing of empty cargo boxes, in turn speeding up the turn around time and remove the imbalance between in bound and out bound movements. Upon commissioning, this will be the second such yard to be opened in Kerala after Vallarpadam,” said K.N. Roopesh Babu, General Manager, Kottayam port and Container Terminal Services Pvt. Ltd. The port currently handles between 400 TUs to 600 TUs of cargo every month and counts on doubling the volume with the full-fledged operationalisation of the water route between Kochi and Kottayam. Presently, bulk of its import cargo consists of newsprint, machinery and tinker while the export comprises mostly rubber products.

Two days ago, the port conducted a trial run of freight operations through the water route when a barge loaded with machineries successfully plied along the Kodoor river to Eerayilkadavu via Kodimatha from the port here.

The post authorities expect frequent movement of cargo through the water route will cut down the logistics cost to nearly half, besides giving a major boost to the farm sector of central Travancore.

At present, it operates a single barge having a capacity of 10 TUs for freight movement while it plans on a capacity expansion based on demand. “Already a couple of parties have come up expressing interest in operating the barges while our Managing Director Abraham Varghese has been in consultations with the Inland Waterways Authority of India as well,” Mr. Babu added.

Tender finalised

In view of a prospective rise in cargo movement, the port has also finalised the tender for purchasing a 150-metric tonne crane unit, which is expected to arrive in Kottayam within 15 days. The port, which is a private-public participation project, was commissioned in December 2009.

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