The expansion of Visakha Container Terminal (VCT) coupled with the berth extension, finally came to fruition earlier this year, after delays caused by the global pandemic. While the existing T1 terminal of Visakha Cargo Terminal has the capacity of 0.6 Mn TEUs, the new terminal -T2 has a capacity of 0.75 Mn TEUs, thus taking the overall annual handling capacity of the terminal to 1.35 Mn TEUs.
The berth has been extended by an additional 395 meters taking the total quay length of the terminal to 845 meters. The new T2 is equipped with three Super Post Panamax Rail Mounted Quay Cranes for handling vessel side operations with an outreach to handle 22 containers across vessels and 9 electrically operated Rubber Tyred Gantry Cranes (e-RTGCs) for yard operations. With this, Visakha Cargo Terminal has a total of 9 quay cranes and 19 RTGCs along with 7 reach stackers for catering to operational requirements. T2 also has 300 reefer plug points in addition to the earlier 350 plug points at T1, taking the total number of reefer plug points to 650.
With the 845 meters quay length available, container vessels can berth immediately on arrival thereby minimizing the waiting time to berth. Moreover, additional equipment deployed will be key for quicker evacuation of containers enabling faster turnaround time of vessels, while allowing room for new services to call Visakha Cargo Terminal. On the other hand, additional yard capacity created will allow more room, to stack containers.
Visakha Cargo Terminal now has the capability to become a container hub because of its locational advantage, deep draft of 16.5 m, weekly mainline and feeder services offering global connectivity and the requisite modern infrastructure to handle transshipment traffic.
The new terminal came into operations with the handling of the maiden vessel m.v. TRF Kaya of MDM Service operated by Bengal Tiger Line (BTL) that was berthed at T2 on 15th March 2022. Besides the handling of vessels, T2 has established connectivity to Durgapur. The maiden container rake to Inland Container Deport (ICD) Durgapur was flagged off from Vishaka Cargo Terminal on 20th February 2022 in the presence of CONCOR, Wan Hai and the Visakha Cargo Terminal team. The rake operated by CONCOR carried 90 TEUs of Wan Hai which were destined for customers near the Kolkata region. Likewise, many more containers are expected to arrive that will be connected to ICD Durgapur with the support of CONCOR rakes, making the new product a great success.
Furthermore, Visakha Container Terminal is connected by rail to ICD Birgunj, Nepal from the terminal via Container Train Operators (CTO). Visakhapatnam has become the preferred gateway port to Nepal because the container terminal is equipped with excellent infrastructure for handling containers and has a proven track record for efficiency. India is one of Nepal's largest trading partners, and Visakhapatnam handles about 60 percent of Nepal-bound rail traffic. Trade between the two countries via Visakha Cargo Terminal has been increasing since 2017.
Private CTOs in India and Nepal can now utilise the Indian railway network to carry freight containers with imports to, or exports from Nepal. This move by both governments has opened doors for the CTOs to participate in Nepal’s rail traffic and will benefit merchants by reducing transportation costs. As a result, J M Baxi in collaboration with Pristine Logistics, had its maiden container rake movement on 26th November 2021 from Visakha Cargo Terminal to Birgunj ICD in Nepal. This initiative has opened new avenues for bilateral trade and transit sector. Currently an average of 25 rakes per month are being handled at the terminal. The erstwhile pendency of Nepal bound containers had increased due to various reasons. The deployment of additional rakes in the circuit, by both Pristine Logistics and J M Baxi group at the right time has ensured that the pendency of containers bound for Nepal has been reduced faster than the estimated time. With the kind of efficiency, the CTOs and the terminal has showcased, the turnaround of containers to Birgunj has become faster through Visakhapatnam.