Port Wings News Network:
Ocean freight logistics is a highly complex task which requires tremendous amount of experience as well as knowledge, Mr.Raghav Himatsingka, Director, Ideal Movers Pvt Ltd, has said.
In an exclusive interview to Port Wings, Mr Raghav said, “We need experience as well as knowledge to determine the most cost economical routes to transport the cargo in the least amount of time without any handling damage to the consignment.”
Q. Tell us about the background of Ideal Movers, its growth over the years?
Mr.Raghav Himatsingka: Ideal Group started in the year 1982 in Kolkata. Ideal Movers – the logistics arm of the group – was started in the year 2000 with only 10 trucks. In 15 years’ time, we have expanded into a wide range of logistics solutions with more than 40 offices across India and a global agency network in all major countries. We today own close to 2000 vehicles, 70 heavy lift cranes, Goldhofer hydraulic axles, forklifts, excavators, etc. and are the preferred logistics partners of the largest corporates in the country including the Tata Group, Reliance, Essar Group, Adani, Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro, Jindal Group, Posco, Vedanta Group, etc.
Q. What is Ideal Movers’ USP to attract EXIM trade in East and West Coast?
RH: Ideal has several strong reasons why clients prefer to work with them. Firstly, we have a large fleet of vehicles and equipment with a pan-India presence. Secondly, we have a large global network of partners. These two factors allow us to offer our clients door-to-door solutions from anywhere in India to anywhere globally and vice versa. We have a solid reputation for maintaining our commitment with the largest corporates in the country and lastly we have a supremely talented team comprising of the best logistics professionals in the industry.
Q. Tell us about the ongoing upgradation projects in Ideal Movers to meet the growing demand in Ocean Freight segment?
RH: Ocean freight logistics is a highly complex task which requires tremendous amount of experience as well as knowledge to determine the most cost economical routes to transport the cargo in the least amount of time without any handling damage to the consignment. Since it is an asset light business for logistics players like us, the differentiation is usually in assembling the best team who can carry out the job. We are currently expanding our team and we also make sure to train our people from time to time so that they are aware of the latest trends in the industry.
Q. Ocean Freight has been the important segment in logistics chain. How do you see the prospects of Ideal Movers in the segment?
RH: We are very confident of becoming the market leaders in the segment in the time to come just like the way we are the market leaders in all our other service offerings: road transportation, heavy lifts and projects transportation.
Q. Since your focus is solely on heavy and odd-shaped cargo as well as break bulk cargo, how do you see the opportunity in the segment?
RH: We expect this segment to grow rapidly in the near future. With a stable government that appears to be keen to increase infrastructure investments in the country, we should see huge projects being imported in the country in the next few years. On the exports side Prime Minister Modi’s government has a tremendous push for Make In India which should help increase the cargo going out of the country as well.
Q. Movement of ODC cargo is often termed as a herculean task based on its size. What is your expectation from ports in easing out the task?
RH: We don’t know whether much can be done about it. Most large ports in India are extremely congested which lead to higher shipping costs due to detention of ships berthing there. India is blessed with a long coastline on half of its border so it is unfortunate that we don’t have better port facilities in the country. There are a few private ports coming in; if the ship traffic and facilities at these ports become better, they could potentially be game changers in the sector.
Q. Tell us about the future plans of Ideal Movers?
RH: We are bullish about industrial growth in the next few years and we will continue to invest and expand in all our service offerings.
Q. Ideal Movers is a seasoned one in logistics sector in the country. What are the challenged the logistics sector faces nowadays?
RH: The biggest challenges today in the logistics sector are liquidity of cash, driver availability, increasing toll taxes and harassment of our drivers by various entities on the road. We talk of wanting to become a world-class developed nation but we are probably amongst the bottom of the list in logistics. Unless some of these fundamental issues are solved, we will struggle to achieve the growth that we hope to achieve since the logistics sector contributes almost 15% to our total GDP.
Q.Do you agree with the notion that there is a dearth of skilled drivers in the country?
RH: There is a severe dearth of drivers in the country because few people are keen on becoming a driver in today’s time. Primary reasons for the same are the rising alternate job opportunities, the extreme risk to life and health of the driver while on job, lack of respect in society for the driver community and the extreme living conditions of the driver away from home and family.
Q. In your view, how come we overcome the drivers’ shortage?
RH: This is a very difficult task. We need to encourage more people to become drivers. Governments and large manufacturers like Tata Motors and Ashok Leyland should lead the way by opening mass scale driver training schools for truckers. This will make the driver job aspirational as well as reduce safety hazards on the roads in general. Toll taxes should be automated/reduced and unwanted elements that harass drivers on the roads should be removed. This will reduce the cash transactions required en-route thus reducing the chances of burglary on the road. Today commercial vehicle driving is a 365 days, 24×7 job that it need not be. The drivers should be able to work from hub to hub handing off the vehicle to the next driver just like a relay. Drivers can have proper resting places at these hubs and they can spend every alternate day with their families. This is only possible however if the government does away with its one-chassis-one-trolley rule. Incidentally, these things are all already working in developed countries where driving is as respectable a job as any other if not more.
The State of Andhra Pradesh commands the lion’s share of over 46 per cent with three projects worth over Rs. 20,000 crores under construction in the ports sector under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model as of April 30, 2013.
“With three projects worth over Rs. 1,425 crores, AP has a share of about six per cent in the PPP port projects under operation and the State has no projects in the ports sector that are under bidding,” according to a just concluded study titled ‘Port Developments in India’ released by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
“While Gujarat accounts for the maximum share of over 50 per cent in the total number of completed projects in the ports sector that have been put to service delivery under the PPP model as of April 30, Kerala has the highest share of about 40 per cent in the PPP ports projects under bidding,” highlighted the study that was jointly released by Mr. Ravindra Sannareddy, Chairman of ASSOCHAM Southern Regional Council, and Mr. D. S. Rawat, National Secretary General, at a Press conference held in Hyderabad.
“Out of the total 881 PPP projects worth over Rs. 5.4 lakh crores taken up under the PPP model across India, 62 projects in the port sector worth over Rs. 82,000 crores are in different stages of implementation,” said Mr. Sannareddy.
“While 21 PPP projects in the port sector with a share of over 52 per cent worth over Rs. 43,000 crores are under construction, eight projects worth about Rs. 14,000 crores with a share of about 17 per cent are under bidding,” stated Mr. Rawat.
“Of the remaining, one project is in the expression of interest stage (EoI) and one has been cancelled,” he added.
Of the total, 31 PPP port projects worth over Rs. 24,700 crores are under operation in India as of April 30. Gujarat accounts for over 50 per cent share with 12 completed PPP projects worth over Rs. 12,400 crores, according to the study.
With two port projects worth over Rs. 4,100 crores completed and put to operation in the PPP mode, Odisha ranks second with a share of about 17 per cent followed by Maharashtra where five projects worth over Rs. 3,700 crores are under operation.
Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu each with three projects under operation have garnered a share between 5-6 per cent followed by Kerala (2.8 per cent).
Apart from Andhra Pradesh, the States of Maharashtra, Kerala and Odisha and the Union Territory of Pondicherry are the other regions with maximum share ranging between 7-16 per cent in the PPP projects worth over Rs. 2,900-Rs. 6,700 crores under construction.
With two projects worth over Rs. 5,500 crores, Kerala has the maximum share of about 40 per cent in the PPP ports projects under bidding. Maharashtra and Karnataka are the other States with a share of over 37 per cent and 23 per cent in this category.
Besides, with a share of over 53 per cent, Gujarat also tops the list amid nine maritime states as it could create almost double the capacity at the minor ports than was envisaged in the 11th Five Year plan.
“Minor ports in Gujarat had a capacity of 182 million tonnes as on March 31, 2007 and the State was expected to add about 56 million tonnes capacity during the XI Plan (2007-12), while the State had realised capacity addition to about 283.6 million tonnes up to March 31, 2011, i.e. actual capacity addition of 101.6 million tonnes during the first four years of XI Plan,” according to the study.
The total capacity of India’s nine maritime states namely – Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Pudhucherry and Tamil Nadu – as on March 31, 2007, was about 228.3 million tonnes which was expected to add about 337.4 million tonnes during 2007-12 and the total capacity realized as on March 31, 2011 was 418.3 million tonnes thereby adding about 190 million tonnes during the first four years of the XI Plan.
Odisha is only the second State after Gujarat which realized the actual capacity addition of about 23 million tonnes from zero capacity during the first four years of XI Plan thereby by exceeding the expected capacity addition between 2007-12 which was about 13.2 million tonnes.
Considering that India’s port infrastructure is not on par with the global standards, the inefficient port services pose severe challenges to India’s trade as the inefficiency and non-competitiveness of India’s ports result in higher costs, apart from the turnaround time at ports, the report said.
“There is an urgent need to modernize India’s ports as the existing ports are plagued with a plethora of problems like congestion, poor connectivity, accessibility and lack of adequate facilities,” highlighted the study.
“There is a huge scope for investments in development of port infrastructure which needs to develop fast and the capacity utilization must also be improved,” it further said.
The XII Plan objective of attracting more than one lakh crore private investments for developing non-major ports turns out to be an ambitious target unless and otherwise their XI Plan performances are evaluated in proper spirit.
The concerned states must seriously consider incorporating the success strategies of others for better fulfillment of the Plan objectives, suggested the apex chamber.
India’s merchandise trade has increasingly been affected by its deficient port infrastructure. Hence, ASSOCHAM has suggested to the Government to quickly revamp its ports development strategy to attract maximum private resources into the country.
According to the ASSOCHAM study, there is a need to expand the existing framework to attract private sector participation for the development of infrastructure facilities and other related activities.
Private investment can be a huge bonus in areas like road infrastructure, coastal shipping and inland waterways with port connectivity apart from ship repairs and ship building.
With a view to wooing the EXIM fraternity to its newly inaugurated facility, Kattupalli Port, a joint venture between Tamil Nadu Government and L & T, a trade meet was organised on Feb. 11 in Chennai.
At the meeting, in which about 300 representatives of major EXIM players from the region attended, Mr. G. Gandhirajan, Chief Operating Officer (COO), L & T Ports, Kattupalli, unveiled the state-of-the-art facilities the port has for movement of cargoes.
With the launch a couple of weeks ago by Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, the Kattupalli Port, still considered as a minor port which comes under the control of Tamil Nadu Maritime Board, has become the third port in the State to handle containerized cargo, after Chennai and Tuticorin.
Appealing to the gathering, which included the port’s potential customers, importers and exporters, besides steamer agents and Custom House Agents, Mr. Gandhirajan said: “Come and see the facilities that we have for the trade at the newly launched port and utilize them.”
We will play a supporting role and will not compete with the facilities available in the neighbourhood, he replied when the EXIM fraternity repeatedly asked about its plans.
It may be noted here that the port is located amidst three important ports – Chennai Port and Ennore Port in Tamil Nadu and Krishnapatnam Port in the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh.
While Chennai and Krishnapatnam ports are already into container business, besides break-bulk and other activities, Ennore Port, which is sharing its boundary with the recently inaugurated Kattupalli Port, has ambitious plans for container handling facilities in the coming months.
Though L & T owns the port cum ship building complex, it has appointed the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), the Philippines-based port operator, for operating and managing the container terminal (Kattupalli International Container Terminal – KICT)
While ICTSI operates 24 ports in 17 countries worldwide, the KICT is the company’s first project in India.
Elaborating about the future plans, Mr. Gandhirajan stated: “Besides enhancing the capacity of container terminal, we are planning for RORO operations and also vie for handling liquid and general cargo in future.”
Adding further, he observed: “The port has a 14-metre draught now, capable of handling big container vessels, and it can be dredged to 16 metres if need arises.”
KICT has 5,120 ground slots for TEUs, 360 REEFER plug points and 15 RTGs for moving boxes swiftly from ships, he added.
Mr. Gandhirajan pointed out that the tariff for the port is posted on its website and the rates ae comparable with the neighbouring ports.
Since Kattupalli Port is still in the list of minor ports of Tamil Nadu (non-major port in Shipping Ministry parlance), it is technically outside the ambit of the Tariff Advisory for Major Ports (TAMP) that fixes tariff for the country’s 12 Major Ports (governed by Union Shipping Ministry).
“Since we are not bound by TAMP’s tariff regime, we would consult the trade before effecting any revision to announced rates,” he stated. L & T Ports has plans to organize similar trade meets at Coimbatore, Ambur and Bangalore for maintaining captive cargo for the new facility.
Besides others, Mr. Vishal Mathur, GM-Marketing & Commercial, L & T Ports, Kattupalli; Capt. N. Vishwanathan, GM-Marine, L & T Ports, and Mr. Mohemed Gandhar, GM-KICT, interacted with the EXIM fraternity at the trade meet.