In a significant step towards the trial operations for Phase I of the Vizhinjam International Seaport, port authorities have initiated the installation of cranes designed for loading, offloading containers, and shifting them to the yards.
The ambitious project aims to commence trial operations by April of this year.
The installation process involves the setup of 11 yard cranes and four ship-to-shore cranes. As of now, nine cranes have been successfully installed, with the remaining two expected to be operational within the next month. The ongoing operations involve the examination of crane functionality using empty containers.
The installation work is being carried out by the Indian unit of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company Limited (ZPMC). The precise positioning of the cranes plays a crucial role in determining their efficacy, and their functioning will undergo scrutiny based on various parameters, according to a port official.
Several procedural steps precede the commissioning of the cranes before the first ship carrying containers docks at the port, expected within the next couple of months, as per the Economic Times report.
The Significance Of The Vizhinjam Port Project
Most of India’s container traffic business is currently handled by transshipment hub ports such as Colombo, Singapore, Salalah (Oman), Jebel Ali (DP World’s flagship port in Dubai), and Tanjung Pelepas and Port Klang (Malaysia).
While India, with a coastline of about 8,000 km dotted with over 200 ports (including 13 major ports), most of them are of shallow depth, ranging from just nine metres to 11 metres, and cannot accommodate the kind of massive ships that are now a standard feature of transnational trade.
The biggest ships linking Europe and the Far East cannot dock at any Indian port. India lacks container transshipment infrastructure capable of servicing them. Only a handful of ports, including Mumbai, Mundra, Kochi/Vallarpadam, Chennai and Visakhapatnam have container handling facilities.
It is in this context that Vizhinjam port assumes huge significance.
Vizhinjam, located about 14 km from Kerala’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram, has a natural depth of over 18 metres and is located hardly 10 nautical miles (18 km) from the international shipping route from West Asia, Africa and Europe to the far eastern regions of the world.
Additionally, the availability of a 20-metre contour within one nautical mile from the coast, minimal littoral drift along the coast, the natural depth that excludes the need for maintenance dredging, potential for better road, and rail transport link potential make Vizhinjam a strategic well-suited for the greenfield project.
Vizhinjam is envisaged to be an all-weather, multipurpose, deepwater, mechanised, greenfield port that seeks to garner the lion’s share of the Indian transshipment cargo now being handled by the nearby foreign ports and emerge as the future transshipment hub of the country.
Once phase 1 becomes operational, Vizhinjam port is projected to handle 1 million TEUs ( 20-foot equivalent container units), and in subsequent phases, another 6.2 million TEUs will be added, which makes up over 70 per cent of the country’s current transshipment.
The port’s impact extends beyond direct operations, with expectations of employing around 5,000 people initially. Additionally, numerous indirect businesses associated with the port are poised to benefit from its operations, ushering in a new era of economic opportunities in the region.