India is finalizing the process to open Visakhapatntam port to Nepalese cargo. Cargo traffic at the Visakhapatnam Port Trust (VPT) is expected to receive a major fillip as Nepal is looking at moving its goods through the major port in the near future.
While land-locked Nepal is currently dependent on the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) for handling its export-import cargo, the neighbouring nation has now expressed interest in using VPT as an additional gateway to move its goods through the strategically located major port in AP.
Consul general of Nepal, Chandra Kumar Ghimire, said, "We have approached the central government to designate Vizag Port as an additional port and will soon start cargo movement from here."
While mentioning that the proposal to move cargo from VPT was mooted about six years ago, he said the process was delayed due to certain issues, which have been sorted out now. He said that the legal documents for the operations to take off from VPT will be signed by the commerce secretaries of the two countries soon report The Times of India.
During the last fiscal, Nepal registered cargo traffic of 35,000 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) container cargo and 4.6 lakh tonnes of bulk cargo. "We have noticed that VPT offers a lot of advantages, including customs facilities and the presence of other non-government stake holders. The technology is in place here, which will be an advantage for us."
Sources said that the only disadvantage of VPT is the additional distance of 866 km that cargo will have to travel in order to reach Nepal. However, factors such as deep draft facilities at the container terminal, apart from faster turnaround time, is the driving factor for Nepal to look at VPT as an additional option reports the media.
Confirming the development, a senior VPT official said, "Kolkata has lesser draft as compared to Vizag, which means that the customer will have to spend more as only smaller vessels can be used. That cost can be offset at VPT as it can handle Panamax and Capesize vessels." Furthermore, he said that the increasing number of shipping lines at Vizag is an added advantage for VPT.
Sources said apart from VPT housing one of the best container terminals in the country, Container Corporation of India (Concor) has also expressed interest in provide the required number of rakes for cargo movement between the Port City and the Himalayan country. Concor also has the advantage of operating an Inland Container Depot (ICD) at Birgunj, which is the entry point to Nepal.