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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Trouble continues at 'O' gate - Chennai Port and Container traffic

Exactly a month ago, I had posted on the woes at Chennai Port with  container laden trucks queuing up for kilo meters for entry into the port.    The gateway of South India, Chennai Port,  the third oldest port among the 12 major ports has completed 128 years of  service.  But some of the troubles also appear to be century-old.   With only one gate available, at times, there is a serpentine queue of vehicles lined up for kilometers,  creating chaos and throwing traffic out of gear – not only for those vehicles involved with movement of cargo to the port but for all other road users as well.   

Photo courtesy :
Earlier there had been trouble arising out of many causes, including accidents and truckers strikes.  A trouble cropping up regularly is attributed to the ‘single gate and lack of manpower of Customs officials at the gate’.  Today’s Dinamalar reports of several containers  stranded while awaiting entry at Chennai port and the report puts the queuing the line to be 25 + kilometers and you can easily understand the trouble, the hardship of trade as also those living around this area.   There is no expressway or exclusive road for the containers, the trucks run and are parked haphazardly on the congested roads further contributing to the slowdown in movement of containers.

Often Port Officials claim the situation to have improved but immediately as ever other report of clogging up also crops up.   Besides the road side trouble, it also throws out of plan the schedule of traders.  The trading community has been calling for better roads and proper facilities  and improved infrastructural support from Customs authorities.  The snarling delay makes the drivers fed up and gives way to petty squabbles amongst them.  

Recently, there was a debate in the Tamilnadu Assembly even on the need for finding a solution to the gate problem as the only one ‘zero gate’ is inadequate to handle the ever growing traffic.  

Amidst such disturbing results of continued delay and trouble, there is the news of installation of 5  tailor-made ‘container offices' at the Chennai Port Trust (ChPT) zero gate to expedite clearance of container-laden vehicles.  Fitted with air-conditioners these container offices fulfil the long felt need of Customs officials, who have been demanding proper facilities at the entry and exit gate to clear goods and vehicles as they had toil for long hours.  The Hindu reports that  Triway Forwarders, which runs a private Container Freight Station in Manali New Town, has converted 10x10 foot containers into office space, which recently was inaugurated  by the Shipping Secretary.  This is reported to be a temporary as Custom Officials are required to be present  at each gate on a 24-hour basis to clear consignments. Besides, steps have to be taken on a war footing to commence the work on 1.6 km stretch from the zero gate to S.N. Chetty Street and opening of Tiruvottiyur Parking Yard.”

A ChPT official  was quoted as saying that the new facility has been modelled on the lines of toll plazas that eliminate the need for the driver or cleaner to walk down the extra mile to get the consignment cleared. Such container offices have been installed at six gates – three each for imports and exports.

However there are fears that the new arrangement will not ease congestion at the zero gate as vehicles are stopped and diverted at different points by traffic police near toll gate, Ernavoor bridge, Manali and Tirvottiyur-Ponneri-Panchetti road.  There still is need for proper traffic management system  and speedy disposal at Customs point, which only will improve better handling of containers and reducing the unnecessary delay

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
9th Dec 2012.