India’s Busiest Port Resumes Operations
Wednesday, February 14, 2001
Kandla, India's busiest port which was damaged in last month's earthquake, resumed operations at all its 10 general cargo berths on Wednesday with load restrictions on some of them, the port chairman said. "We are operating on all 10 cargo berths with load restrictions on berth numbers one to five from today (Wednesday) onwards," Kandla Port Trust Chairman A.K. Joti told Reuters. Operations were halted on January 26 by the huge quake which struck the western state of Gujarat, killing at least 30,000 people. The port resumed partial operations on February 3. "As of now more than 80 percent of the port capacity is being utilized," a shipping ministry statement said. Port authorities have been facing pressure from traders and the government to restore capacity after the quake.
Kandla handles 17 percent of the cargo through India's 12 major ports. The port has 16 jetties -- six for liquid products and 10 for general cargo. Force majeure, imposed after the quake, was lifted on February 6.
Port officials have said it might take six to eight months for operations fully to return to normal.
Joti said authorities carried out trial runs at the berths on Tuesday and normal operations were restarted following the advice of Indian Institute of Technology engineers. "On our 10 berths, 11 vessels are working, out of which seven are export cargo, three import cargo and one container vessel." He said three tankers were working at the six oil jetties.
"We have not encountered any problems. Loading and unloading will be less by 20 percent or so," he said.
Joti said commodities being loaded included rice for the Middle East, wheat for Iraq and soymeal. He said no vessels were waiting for either cargo berths or the oil jetties. Since partial operations began on February 3, 10 vessels had sailed off and 13 were berthed. - (Reuters)