Opening a new route for cargo transportation between Bangladesh and India, a ship carrying 185 truck chassis manufactured by leading private Indian company Ashok Leyland Limited left Chennai port for Mongla port yesterday.
India’s Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways and Water Resources Nitin Gadkari digitally flagged off a RoRo-cum-general cargo vessel MV IIDM DOODLE carrying the consignment, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
The ship is expected to reach Mongla port in Bagerhat of Bangladesh in five days from the date of journey as against 20-25 days by road, our New Delhi correspondent reports quoting an Ashok Leyland official.
"There are problems at the border, so we have decided to explore sea which also helps in to control damages and reduce pollution ", said Ashok Leyland's Managing Director Vinod K Dasari.
These truck chassis, being exported by Ashok Leyland Ltd, have so far been sent to Bangladesh using the land route, travelling a distance of about 1,500 km. However, transportation through the sea route will save about 15-20 days of travel time, Gadkari said.
The route saves time and coastal transport will also be more cost effective and environment- friendly, the minister said. He urged all automobile manufacturers to use coastal shipping mode for transporting their vehicles.
A shipping company official said the cost saving would be anywhere between 20-40 per cent if the cargo is moved to coastal shipping.
An official of Indian Shipping Ministry said the ship carrying the chassis can also transport other goods and options will be explored how the ship on its return can get cargo to make the sea route transportation economically more viable.
Ashok Leyland Ltd is currently exporting around 12,000 truck chassis to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and countries in Africa. The volume to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is likely to increase by 80% in the coming years. Now, more than 500 trucks per month are expected to be exported using the sea route which will take away a lot of traffic off from India’s roads, Gadkari said.
The Coastal Shipping Agreement between India and Bangladesh was signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in June 2015. Based on the agreement, sea transportation from Indian ports to Bangladesh ports is being treated as coastal movement, making it eligible for 40% concession on vessel-related and cargo-related charges applicable in Indian ports.
Initiatives like this are aimed at providing innovative logistic chain solutions with the ultimate objective being to save logistic costs and time of transportation and boosting trade by making Indian goods competitive in international markets, an official statement issued here said.
The fuel consumption at per tonne cargo is much lower via sea route, so transportation by sea will also reduce carbon footprints on the environment, it said.
Further, the shift to coastal shipping will save wear and tear of the new vehicles and also reduce traffic on congested roads, according to the statement.
The use of coastal shipping for cargo movement from India to Bangladesh comes at a time when exporters are facing hurdles on India-Bangladesh border.
An official said that Petrapole, around 80 kilometers from Kolkata, is the nerve centre for handling business worth almost Rs 25,000 crore a year.
Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh) is a key and busy gateway for India-Bangladesh business. But there is just a single lane and it is narrow, which becomes a long bottleneck for cargo carriers. An estimated 350 trucks are cleared from Indian side while 80 trucks come to India from Bangladesh side every day through this gate which operates six days a week.
Exporters say at least 3,500 Indian trucks are waiting on a given day to cross the border, creating a big problem for parking of so many vehicles.