Shipping company abandons cargo service along Kerala coast

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Kannur: Freight service introduced by Kerala Maritime Board linking the ports of Kochi, Beypore, Azhikkal and Kollam has been discontinued by JM Baxi Group shipping company.

According to company officials, the decision was taken citing the authorities’ failure to put in place the required infrastructure for the transport of goods and failure to sanction incentives, despite the dues exceeding Rs 1 crore.

The ship performed 43 services in nine months

Chowgule – 8, owned by JM Baxi Group, had been providing freight forwarding facilities along the Kerala coast. The vessel, which was flagged to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in August last year, has completed 43 services, carrying 3,330 containers over the past nine months.

The ship, which arrived in Kochi yesterday from Beypore, was due to sail to Goa in the coming days. JM Baxi Group plans to operate new services along the Mumbai-Gujarat coast.

Lack of depth in Beypore, major obstacle of Azhikkal

Chowgule – 8 can carry 106 containers of 20ft each at a time. However, due to the lack of depth in the Beypore and Azhikkal channels, the ship could only load less than half its capacity. It is difficult to transport even 20 containers to the port of Azhikkal, where dredging has not taken place for years. The situation is such that the ship has to wait offshore until the water level rises, costing the company fuel and time.

Although the Maritime Council has decided to increase the depth of the Azhikkal channel by seven meters through the reverse dredging method, which incurs almost no cost, the port department has not yet given permission.

The failure to properly set up the Customs Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system in Azhikkal and Beypore is another reason that has hampered the processing of international cargo.

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