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Saturday, February 20, 2016

transportation of new cars from Chennai Port to Pipavav by RO-RO vessel

“Ro-Ro”  is an acronym for Roll-on/roll-off, specialised Carriers that transport wheeled cargo, mainly new automobiles.  The ro-ro ship is different from lo-lo (lift on-lift off) ship that uses a crane to load the cargo. The vehicles in the ship are loaded and unloaded by means of built-in ramps. Normally these ramps are made towards the stern (backside) of the ship.

These vessels are slightly odd-shaped and in recent years, one can spot such vessels from Marina beach.  India has a lengthy coast line.  Our coast spans from the south west Indian coastline along the Arabian sea from the coastline of the Gulf of Kutch in its western most corner and stretches across the Gulf of Khambhat, and through Mumbai, Konkan, Canara, Mangalore, Malabar, to Cape Comorin,  into Southern India aong  Coromandal Coast.  Our Nation has a coastline of7,517 km (4,671 mi).

There are so many ports in Gujarat ~ some are administered by Private.  Gujarat Maritime Board, is the statutory body of State Government of Gujarat, which responsible for management, control and administration of 44 ports in Gujarat State. Port Pipavav, India’s first port in the private sector, is a port on the West Coast of India for containers, bulk and liquid cargo. Its lead promoter is APM Terminals, one of the largest container terminal operators in the world.

APM Terminals recently  announced having hosted the maiden call by leading RORO operator Höegh Autoliners vessel – m.v. HOEGH ANTWERP at Pipavav Port. HOEGH ANTWERP berthed at Pipavav Port in late January, 2016, to load Ford’s small and midsized cars, being exported from its Sanand plant in Gujarat. Norway-based Höegh Autoliners is a leading global provider of transportation and logistics services within the RoRo segment. It has large fleet of vessels for Pure Car and Truck Carriers (PCTCs) sailing in global trade systems.

In August 2015, APM Terminals Pipavav commenced operations of its RoRo facility and successfully berthed its first RoRo vessel m.v.Grand Dahlia at the port. Over 10,000 cars have been shipped from Pipavav Port since the commencement of the RoRo facility.   The first shipment was of  1,380 new Ford Figo Aspire vehicles loaded on to  ‘Grand Dahlia’ vessel.   
Photo credit :

Hyundai Santro was launched in Sept  1998 and was a runaway success. Within a few months of its inception HMIL became the second largest automobile manufacturer and the largest automobile exporter in India. Hyundai has a manufacturing facility near Sriperumpudur in Tamilnadu, closer to the Capital and Port at Chennai.  Hyundai exports cars to foreign countries and cars do roll out to other parts of India – it is very usual to see so many specialised trucks waiting for loading cars.

The interesting news is - Hyundai Motor Company is now using ships to move its cars across domestic markets to save on costs and reduce carbon footprint.

As many as 800 cars were loaded on to the M.V. IDM Symex, a roll-on-roll-off (RoRo) vessel, at the Chennai Port  recently and the vessel sailed for Pipavav Port.   Though Hyundai had been using Chennai Port for exporting cars, this is the first time it is transporting its cargo through the sea for domestic market. Trade sources said it takes normally three to four days for the car manufacturer to move vehicles from the production centres near Chennai to Gujarat region through trailers.

However, shipping them is seen as eco-friendly and low-cost as the Centre had promised to provide incentive of Rs.3,000 per car to those using coastal route.  The Hindu reported that after flagging off the maiden service, Chennai Port Trust officials are also talking to other OEMs such as Nissan and Ford to start using the coast for transporting cargo.  The Port Chairman is quoted as stating that to encourage the OEMs to use the Port services, they announced a flat wharfage rate of Rs.500 per small car and Rs.2,000 for big cars.  Kamarajar Port, which recently overtook Chennai Port in car exports, is also reportedly  thinking in a similar direction.

The news report adds that Vessel owner Symex Maritime Inc. has been granted permission by the Directorate General of Shipping to carry out coastal run for five years. IDM Symex will be used to transport cars manufactured mainly by Hyundai and other manufacturers. To make it viable, Symex is in discussion with exporters and importers to ship other commodities during the return trip to Chennai. Reportedly an earlier attempt was not so successful. 

It is now sated that moving cars by coastal shipping would be 25 to 30 per cent cheaper when compared to road. It is pollution free, as nearly 100 car trailers would be off the road.  According to government estimates, a diversion of 5 per cent of cargo transportation to a waterborne mode can result in an annual saving of  Rs.2,000 crore and a reduction of 6 per cent in harmful chemicals and pollutants.

Commodities carried by coastal shipping include thermal coal, crude oil, iron ore and cement, and this has not changed over the years.  A web search reveals that APM Terminals Pipavav  received its first domestic Ro-Ro shipment of 800 Hyundai cars  recently.  The development follows Ministry of Shipping's decision to relax cabotage regulations on special vessels … lot happening out there, on the sea and at ports.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

20th Feb 2016.


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