The coronavirus pandemic outbreak negatively impacted overall traffic at the country’s largest container port JNPT by 26 per cent year-on-year in April-July, but it expects an improvement going forward, a top official has said.
The pandemic, which brought all economic activities to a near-halt for almost two months, has also forced the port to extend timeline for certain projects by three months, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust Chairman Sanjay Sethi told PTI.
“The overall traffic at JNPT declined 26 per cent between March-July. So, the COVID impact has been 26 per cent year-on-year. Within that, the silver lining is that in July, we have seen an improvement of over 19 per cent,” Sethi said.
The port reported a 19 per cent spike in overall traffic to 4.85 million tonnes in July over June, with container traffic rising to 3,44,316 twenty-foot equivalent units.
“Till June, things were not so good, but July has been much better. Exports, which had suffered during April and May on account of restrictions on movement owing to a complete lockdown, is back to pre-COVID level in July.
“And things can improve further from here. We are expecting import will also be back to normal from this month,” Sethi said.
He said there was a spurt in exports after announcement of lockdown relaxations in May because of the pent-up demand, but then it went down a little as factories took some time to become functional.
“Now July definitely shows that factories are operating, that is the only way we could be getting so much cargo,” Sethi said.
He, however, said JNPT continued functioning even during the lockdown period, adding, “we did manage even in those worst of times.”
Sethi said the timelines for certain projects, including those under Bharatmala project, have increased by three months owing to various issues in the wake of the pandemic.
“Even bids process management tends to face problems as people are working from home with certain constraints,” he said.
Sethi, however, added that the units in which work had already started did not have any impact.
The ₹7,900-crore fourth terminal project of JNPT will raise the cargo handling capacity of the port by 50 per cent.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had dedicated the first phase of the project to the nation in February 2018.
The JNPT chairman said the work on Jalna and Wardha dry ports is on and infrastructure is getting completed, adding that at least the main part of the Inland Container Depot (ICD) will start functioning by December.
According to the Indian Ports Association (IPA), India’s major ports continued to report lower traffic, with cargo volume registering a 18.06 per cent dip to 193.38 million tonnes (MT) between April and July this fiscal.
Cargo volume declined declined for the fourth straight month in July 2020 at 11 out of the 12 major ports under the control of the Centre, with Mormugao being the exception.
These 12 ports had together handled 236.01 MT of cargo during April-July 2018-19.
Cargo handled by JNPT port slipped 27.69 per cent to 16.94 MT in July, as per the IPA.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.