Floating cranes to unload cargo
In a major infrastructure boost for the state, Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) has started cargo transfer (lighterage) operations at the sandheads and Sagar anchorages using floating cranes. The barges to which the cargo from large freighters are being loaded are no longer having to enter the confines of the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC). They are off-loading their cargo at a jetty outside the port from where it is being moved to other destinations by rail or road.
“One of the floating cranes have already started operations. The other one will start by the end of January. We are handling all kinds of bulk cargo, including coal. Not only will the operations speed up, the jetty will give us an additional capacity of nearly two million tonnes per annum,” KoPT chairman Vinit Kumar said.
KoPT handles a lot of bulk cargo. Draught constraint at HDC doesn’t allow large ships with capacity loads to enter the port confines. Facing a risk of cargo migrating to other ports like Paradip and Dhamra, the port management explored the possibility of such transloading (transferring shipment to other modes transport) operations and offered concessional rates to customers.
“Our benefits are threefold. As we have floating cranes that can move from one location to another, we no longer have to handle geared vessels. Most ships are now gearless (without cranes or other equipment) to accommodate more cargo. Secondly, we will be able to nearly double our output. If we were transloading 2,000-2,500 tonnes from ships at the sandheads and Sagar every day, we can now handle nearly 5,000 tonnes. A vessel that would normally take 48 hours to empty can now be cleared in 24, thereby reducing costs. Another factor is smaller vessels or barges no longer have to wait for lock operations to enter the Haldia port,” said another KoPT official.