This post is inspired by an article in the Malayalam daily “Mathrubhumi”
“Queen of Arabian sea” this is a name kochi have earned because of its significance in the economy and development of the southern India,But the current position of kochi port is not a good sign for the port and kochi as a whole.The volume of trade at the port in 2008-09 have shrink compared to 98-99 and it is expected to fall further down in 09-10.The frequent strikes and tools down had made kochi less favourable than the neighbouring ports.The neighbouring ports like mangalore ,Tuticorin etc are capitalising on the prevailing situation and are showing positive growth in trade volume.If the current condition prevails the shipping companies will be forced to call on other neighbouring ports.
The cause of latest strikes according to sources are new manning scales introduces which makes a cut in no of workers per a task.Earlier there was a strike when the port introduce a biometric card to keep check on unauthorised absence, but this strike failed !!How??.These were about strikes within the port but port is also badly affected when there is trailer strike or hartal in kerala.According to source the port have lost 36 days of work due to strike since Jan 2009.These words from the captain of a cargo ship currently berthed at the port says it all”we have waited for berths to be made free at many ports but here berths are free but the strike it is a first experience!!”
The shipping companies are worried because of the time,price etc are at stake.The cargo which are to be transferred to the mother ship at Colombo many time miss the ship because of the unwanted delays here .When we look at the economic perspective the shipping companies acquire loss of lakhs for days the berth idle at a port.The best illustration for the fate for the kochi port is the last consignment of 26,000 tonne potash imported by FACT which was through Tuticorin even when FACT have a special berth at the kochi port.
Timber industry is also not happy with the kochi port the timber industry which was importing through other ports was attracted to kochi in 2005 by offering many incentives,but when ever a timber cargo called at kochi there were strikes .This has forced many timber exporters to rethink on their decision.
Considering the prevailing condition in kochi many importers and exporters feel that doing there transaction through other ports is more economically viable.There thoughts are fueled by the officers from other ports who have visited the and offered them many incentives and better services.
If this condition prevails in kerala what will be thew fate of other port development projects like vizhinjam and vallarpadom ??
I think this is a matter which should be address immediately because of its impact of kerala as an industrial destination and will affect the investments in kerala.There should be some law to curb the number of lost work days or a common understanding between the concerned so that the “Queen of Arabian Sea Do not loose its Trade “