INDIA needs fewer ports with greater capacity, according to Maersk Line's managing director for India, Franck Dedenis.
The Danish shipping giant shipped 1.7 million TEU to and from India last year, where it has a staff of 305 and 46 inland container depots nationwide.
In an interview with Economic Times of India, Mr Dedenis urged the government to do much more for the Indian nation to be on par with global shipping industries; and the key objective ought to be to speed up growth through the development of trade.
He supports the steps taken to relax cabotage rules, provided 50 per cent transshipment. But warns it may be difficult for some terminals in India to qualify for that 50 per cent. At many of the major ports that transshipment share is very limited, he said.
"All the transshipment is done in Jebel Ali, Salalah, Colombo and Tanjung Pelepas. Even the transshipment port of Vallarpadam in Kochi is very far [from reaching the minimum target of 50 per cent]."
"Two years ago we did some transshipment in Vizag, but because of lack of capacity and reliability, we had to go back and transship in Tanjung Pelepas," said Mr Dedenis.
"We want transshipments that are being taken elsewhere today should come to India. We can then have efficiencies of scale by having a hub and spoke model wherein bigger vessels can come and transship in India and go to other ports.
"If you do that, you can bring goods which are cheaper for consumers and for exporters to transport goods which are more competitive in the global market," he said.
"The more capacity you have, the more flexibility and better rates," he noted.
For India to be globally competitive, it needs greater terminal capacity and infrastructure, and to bring in bigger vessels it needs deeper drafts and bigger berths. In India, there is a great deal of demand for container, liquid and bulk terminals.
"We just opened Krishnapatnam weekly on our Chennai Express service on to the west. We started Kattupalli. We are also calling Kakinada. So if you look at the last two weeks, we started three new services. But Kakinada, for instance, we can transship in another port in India. It is not a vessel that will go to the final destination," Mr Dedenis added.