NISAA urges for hinterland connectivity to boost port services
The ‘NISAA Forum’ (North India Steamer Agents Association of India Forum) 2014, which was recently held in New Delhi raised several critical issues that create bottlenecks in transporting export-import cargo to and from Indian ports from/to north India, i
In his inaugural address Capt AK Kaura, President, NISAA said that converting cargo from rail to road is a big challenge in this region because of multiple factors viz. poor hinterland connectivity, various agencies involved at ICDs resulting in delay in clearance of cargo and increase in transaction cost. He suggested that apart from strengthening the hinterland and last mile connectivity, there should be regular performance audit of ICDs, availability of monthly data of volumes handled by ICDs, e-communication, uniform system and policy and introduction of double stack-containers and proper utilisation of empty space to reduce cost. The Forum was also addressed by Raghu Dayal, former and Founder MD of Concor and several other industry experts and practitioners.
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Dayal highlighted the key issues which are creating bottlenecks in transportation of goods from north India to the ports. He also underlined the poor road transport sector which carries the majority of cargo. He pointed out that the large volumes of freight is transported on Indian roads by an unorganised trucking industry. 75 per cent of trucking firms own small fleets of less than five trucks; only 11 per cent operate 20 trucks or more. Two-axle light trucks dominate the narrow and badly maintained roads. Regulations prohibiting overloading of vehicles are poorly enforced. Small vehicle sizes and rampant overloading lead to trucking costs amongst lowest for bulk and heavy goods. On the other hand, cost for lighter products – electronics, pharmaceuticals, etc. is substantially higher. There is low penetration of tractor-trailer units, flat-bed trucks suitable for container, carriage, and specialised vehicles for refrigerated transport.
He also criticised the existing licensing regime and multiple check post system where trucks are stopped at multiple checkpoints for inspections, payments of tolls and taxes. “Vehicles moving on inter-state routes remain stationary about 40 per cent of the time in the process of being inspected. World Bank estimated truck delays at checkpoints cost the Indian economy about ` 2,300 crore per annum. These delays result in Indian trucks being used, on average, for about 60,000 to 100,000 kms per year, less than a quarter of that in the developed countries,” he pointed out.
Dayal firmly believes that for a rebalancing of multi-modal transport system, road sector should be more efficient and less dominant. The focus should be on its advantages viz., its extensive reach, last mile superiority and flexibility to deliver smaller volumes. Accordingly, a strong combination of road and rail hold the keys behind the success of hinterland connectivity for ocean freight to and from North as well other parts of India.
Dignatories at the dais addressing the NISAA Forum in New Delhi