The much-delayed international container transhipment port at Vizhinjam near Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala will be fully commissioned by May 2024, Karan Adani, Chief Executive Officer, Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ), which is building the new port, has said.
“We expect the first vessel to berth in October this year, that’s when we expect the first equipment to come. We expect the Phase 1 of the port (400 metre quay) to be commissioned by March 2024 and the balance by May 2024. So, we expect the full commissioning of Vizhinjam Port by May 2024,” Karan Adani said at an analysts call on Tuesday 30 May after the company announced the fourth quarter and annual financial results.
The new port is designed to cut India’s dependence on nearby Colombo to send and receive container cargo.
According to the concession agreement signed on August 17, 2015, Vizhinjam port was slated to start operations on December 3, 2019.
Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd (AVPPL), the APSEZ unit developing the port, has blamed force majeure events arising from acts of God such as the Cyclone Ockhi, high waves, a National Green Tribunal order, the pandemic, Cyclone Tauktae and reasons attributable to Kerala government authorities for the delay in achieving the scheduled commercial operation date (COD) set by the concession agreement for the project.
Force majeure clause absolves firms from meeting their contractual commitments for reasons beyond their control.
The delay and the reasons behind it are currently being heard by an arbitration panel.
The Vizhinjam port, according to port and shipping industry sources, is best suited to cut India’s dependence on Colombo — a regional transhipment hub — to send and receive cargo containers entailing extra time and costs for exporters and importers.
Vizhinjam has 20 meters of natural water depth that allows big mother ships to dock, a key requirement for hosting a transhipment hub. Further, the port is only 12 nautical miles from the international shipping route, giving direct access to international trade.