Visakhapatnam: If all goes according to plan, then Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) may start handling container cargo bound for Nepal in the next couple of months. According to VPT sources, the ministry of railways and the ministry for commerce and industry have issued necessary approvals for VPT to handle cargo arriving from and heading towards Nepal. The development comes in the wake of agreements signed by the Governments of India and Nepal in February earlier this year. Until now cargo from Nepal was only handled by the Kolkata Port Trust and now VPT is looking at bagging a share of the cargo due to various advantages it offers.
He said, “Even though Visakhapatnam-Nepal distance is longer as compared to Kolkata-Nepal, the advantage comes in terms of sea freight as larger vessels can berth at VPT.” However, in case of Kolkata-bound cargo, usually transhipment takes place at Singapore and smaller vessels head to the capital of West Bengal as they have lower draft. At the same time, the official said, “Due to the modern container terminal facility at our port, we can also handle the loading and unloading of cargo at a faster rate.”
According to sources, around 3,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of cargo from Nepal passes through KPT with about 1,600 by rail and 1,400 handled by road. “We are expecting around 700-800 TEUs to start with and then slowly increase to 1,000 TEUs,” the VPT official said. Sources said cargo to Nepal is likely to include electronic shipments, machinery, raw materials for industries and clothes.
Incidentally, VPT has recently received approval from the ministry of environment and forests for extension of the container terminal to increase the container terminal capacity from 0.5 million TEUs to around 1 million TEUs. VPT currently handles around 0.3 million TEUs every year.