In a first, a ship carrying consignment of 185 truck chassis was flagged off from Chennai port to Mongla port in Bangladesh on Saturday under the bilateral coastal shipping agreement.
The ship will reach Mongla in five days while by road each of these trucks would have taken 20-25 days.
Launching the export of Ashok Layland trucks by coastal waterway, shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said this single voyage will save nearly three lakh kms of road travel by all the trucks since each of them would have been driven by a driver.
Though it takes only five days for trucks to cover the stretch between Chennai and Petrapole-Benapole land custom station, it takes 15-20 days to cross this section because of huge vehicle pile up and processes. Top Ashok Layland officials said they decided to explore the sea route option since there are problems at the border.
Petrapole located around 80 km from Kolkata is the key gateway for India-Bangladesh trade. It’s single lane and hence becomes a bottleneck. Over 300 trucks are cleared from Indian side while less than a hundred trucks enter India from Bangla desh side daily . According to exporters about 3,500 Indian trucks are usually found waiting to cross the border everyday .
“Beyond the time saved, the company eliminates the risk attached to taking vehicle by road, their wear and tear since every truck travels at least 1,700 km by the time it reaches Ban gladesh. There will also be huge reduction of carbon footprint.The ship carrying the trucks can also carry other cargo. Options will be explored to find how the ship while returning can get cargo. That will make the sea-route transport more viable,” said a shipping ministry official.
Sources said Ashok Lay land exports about 6,000 trucks annually to Bangladesh and the number is set to increase. Gadkari said he will appeal to all automobile players to use the water transport route to ferry vehicles from production site to the market. “What can be taken off the road using water route should be shifted to this mode.It’s eco-friendly and sustainable. We are encouraging such transport by giving 40% concession on vessel related and cargo related charges,” he added.
At least 20,000 cars are exported from Chennai port annually to Africa and Middle East.
(Times of India)