Having overcome the challenges experienced by RO-RO operators in India, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics expects to make it big in time to come
Though late in entering the RO-RO shipping sector in India, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics has been quick to catch up with other competitors and expects a boom in business in the not too distant future. However, there are challenges on the way to be surmounted and if they play their cards well they feel it will be smooth sailing all the way.
The common grievance RO-RO operators express is getting ample space in the ports. In view of the dearth of space in Chennai port operators use the alternative option of setting up a warehouse. But here the number of floors they can go up is restricted to four. Space is required for transshipment for using ramps, washing cars if needed, etc. In private ports like Mundra where space is being made available easily there is the problem of having to put up with the coal dust from the coal terminal which is fully functional there. This means that by operating from Mundra port lot of time and money is wasted in washing cars before being taken on board the vessel.
The biggest challenge according to Capt Gur Prasad Kohli, Managing Director- Head of India of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics is getting cargo not just for coming in but also for going out. He points out that the car manufacturers in North India like Maruti Suzuki, etc., are not willing to bring their cars down to the South for shipment from Chennai port. The infrastructure is poor and moving cargo by road brings down the efficiency.
“But the quantum of cargo is going to shoot up,” says Capt Kohli. “Virtually every major manufacturer in the world producing automobiles, vehicles, heavy equipment, carriages, tractors, construction equipment and agricultural equipment, is in India. Exports of all these array of wheeled and tracked vehicles are important for Ro-Ro operations and will make it a big success. Car exports are going to go up and the number is projected to go up to over a million by 2016.”
Capt Kohli points out that on the import side WWL is already bringing in heavy equipment, construction machinery, turbines, rail coaches, etc. “There is lot of infrastructural development taking place,” he says. “New ports are being developed and the capacity of the present ones is being shored up. There are at least 16 metros being constructed, power and cement plants being set up, bridges and roads under construction, machinery being imported, etc.”
But there are drawbacks. The Indian government charges import duty of 25 per cent on bunkers; wharfage is charged at 60 per cent of what is charged for international shipping; India’s logistic cost is the highest in the world. All these factors need to be looked into by the government and have these problems streamlined if the industry is expected to grow.