Cross­ing fin­gers for a min­istry for lo­gis­tics

Cargo Talk - - Editorial -

With the start of a new in­nings in the In­dian Repub­lic, comes the del­uge of hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions of a bil­lion people and a thou­sand in­dus­tries.

Af­ter the dust has set­tles on the In­dian Elec­tions of 2014, it will be time to look for­ward to a new Budget; one that will de­cide whether the busi­ness econ­omy matches the on­go­ing bull-rush of the Stock Ex­change, or tight­ens its belt for an as­cetic spell. Of course, the nu­mer­ouno de­mand of the cargo and the lo­gis­tics sec­tor will be the up­grade to an in­dus­try sta­tus. This has been a long-awaited plea of the cargo en­trepreneurs, to have a plat­form to air their wor­ries and woes; and to have a ded­i­cated Min­istry that will boost the cargo and lo­gis­tics sec­tor like noth­ing else. The lo­gis­tics in­dus­try will then be­come ex­actly what the two words de­note.

The ad­van­tages of in­dus­try sta­tus are long and ex­ten­sive. One, that the in­dus­try will be­come more ‘or­gan­ised’ and un­reg­is­tered play­ers will feel the need to get reg­is­tered. This will pro­vide a level play­ing field for all, and will greatly ben­e­fit the end-users as well as the clients. Sec­ondly, it will al­low for greater gov­ern­men­tal fo­cus on re­forms and ad­vance­ments in in­fra­struc­ture. A min­istry over­look­ing the cargo in­dus­try will give greater im­por­tance to the sec­tor’s needs and req­ui­site in­fras­truc­tural de­mands will be stream­lined to match global stan­dards and sys­tems. For ex­am­ple, the ports of In­dia are pos­si­bly one of the most un­der­utilised sec­tors in the whole coun­try. It is a sad fact that, de­spite hav­ing a such a vast coast­line with so much po­ten­tial, the ports are lan­guish­ing with ar­chaic in­fra­struc­ture and long-pend­ing de­mands. Only small and medium-sized cargo ves­sels can en­ter most of the In­dian ports, be­cause the lat­ter do not have the depth to han­dle cargo su­per­car­ri­ers. The Pana­max-class ves­sels have been trans­port­ing the heav­i­est of car­goes in the most cost-ef­fi­cient man­ner, but they usu­ally go be­yond to deep­wa­ter ports like Sin­ga­pore and China. They profit, while In­dian im­porters wait for the smaller ves­sels.

The rea­son: the su­per­car­ri­ers need deep­wa­ter ports be­cause of the heavy loads and their mam­moth sizes, and only three ports in In­dia can claim to han­dle such ves­sels. In­dia, as one of the fastest grow­ing economies, es­pe­cially in the power and steel sec­tors with in­creas­ing raw ma­te­rial re­quire­ments, has to rapidly im­prove to ac­com­mo­date Pana­max and Cape-size ves­sels.

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