The Tariff Authority for Major Ports (TAMP) is likely to relax its guidelines for the construction of three new berths at Haldia Port under the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) after the failure of the trust’s bidding process last year. KoPT chairman MT Krishna Babu said the port wants to construct multi-cargo berths outside the lock gate, which will require an investment of `450 crore.
“Last time we went for tender, three parties — the Adanis, the Tatas and DP World — responded to request for quotation (RFQ). But there was no bidding in the request for proposal (RFP) category. TAMP had given a performance guarantee of handling 28,000 tonne per day, but bidders were apprehensive and said it was simply not possible in a riverine port like Haldia. So, we have requested TAMP to change these conditions and are hoping that it would concede to our request. We would float the tender once again with the revised guidelines in place,” Krishna Babu said.
According to Amal Datta, general manager (administration) at the Haldia Dock Complex, any change in performance guarantee would have implications in setting tariff because TAMP follows a normative cost-based approach which recognises capital and operating costs. TAMP allows 16% return on the capital employed and so, the upfront tariff set by TAMP will only be the ceiling levels. But tariff should be prescribed with reference to the optimal capacity of the terminal irrespective of any traffic forecast.
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Once tariff caps are set for handling different commodities, they would apply to all terminals that are bid out subsequently in the same port during the next five years for handling identical commodities or for providing similar services, Datta said.
The port wants to subsequently put up three terminals — outer terminal 1 for dry bulk cargo, outer terminal 2 for liquid cargo and one barge jetty — outside the lock gates for which they would invite bids.
“Our minimum performance guarantee in the existing berths is 20,000 tonne per day. Any vessels coming to Haldia get unloaded within a maximum of 1.5 days, but we lose two and half days to tidal constraints and ships are unable to leave. Even if we manage a maximum draught of 7.6 metres at Haldia, a lot of waiting leads to high demurrages,” Krishna Babu said.
While the port is unable to handle higher volumes in Haldia on one side, resulting in low revenue generation, higher demurrages are required to be paid to the shipowners for longer waiting period. So, berths outside the lock gate will facilitate optimisation of cargo handling by increasing the ability to handle more ships.
At present the number of ships that can be taken per day inside the lock gate is five and as many vessels can be taken out. The bigger vessels bringing around 23,000 tonnes can be handled in berths inside the lock gate, while smaller vessels can be handled outside the lock gate. Larger vessels with bigger cargo volumes will boost revenue and so, the demurrages for waiting can be offset to some extent. Smaller vessels handled outside the lock gate can then turn around quickly, not having to withstand tidal constraints, the KoPT chairman explained.
“We will have to concentrate on efficiency of bringing the vessels and tide over the tidal restrictions to remain competitive,” Krishna Babu added.