Global Feeder Shipping Plans For ConRo Services In India

Global Feeder Shipping is studying the prospects of launching Roll-On/Roll-Off Container Ships service in India.

“We are having some other ideas of sea logistics for India, and we are working on it, not only container ships but other modes of shipping. We are doing some studies to see if we can bring Roll-On/Roll-Off Container Ships (ConRo) ships (similar to Ro-Ro ships) to India. We are looking at it,” says Mohammad Reza Ghaem Maghami, Chairman, Global Feeder Shipping.

If we can put a ship between one port of India, for example, if you are having a construction site in Kochi and you want to bring cement and ceramic from Gujarat, the cargo laden truck can go into the ship and the truck can roll out at the destination port and go all the way to the site. No handling at the port of loading, no handling at the port of discharge and more importantly less pollution.

It fits with the decarbonisation goals of the government. This is what we are studying. Upon getting the result, we will try to get into this business. We are working in zero phase now, just to see the potential. After we get to know about the potential, we will appoint a professional company to do thorough studies.

Imagine India with a 7,500 km-long coastline, it needs a proper connection by sea. We provided connections by sea for containers. Now, if we can add value, especially where it can lead to decarbonisation, this is a solution by which we can bring the ships away from the coast without generating any carbon.

Again, it will depend on government policy/support.

If the government backs the idea for supporting investments and gives some incentives like tax-free status, or some other policy benefits which will cause industry to use such modes of transport, it will help the project to take off.

Asset on the land side which is needed to enhance the scope for ConRo service is the truck. We should be having trucks and terminals for trucks. Small terminals to be used as parking for trucks because trucks are always on the move, either on board a ship, going from one port to another, or on land. So, the entire operation needs ships and trucks.The truck could be charged while on board the ship.

For short distances, the ConRo is not a good project, it is a good project for long distances beyond 1,000 kms.

Why I am saying more than 1,000 kms is because considering the operation, time of arrival, which are all factors which may be the disadvantageous part of delivery, definitely when you take cargo by sea, it maybe a little bit late but you get rid of traffic on the road, get rid of pollution on land and you are having less operations which produces less carbon.

When you lift a container from a truck to the terminal, then again lift it onto the truck, again lift it and put it on the ship, all these are massive carbon producing operations. While on the ConRo ship, the truck without unloading the container, it goes directly on to the ship and from there, it goes to the destination and goes out from there without unloading. By this, you can have a green port. The ConRo ships have not yet been tested in Indian coastal waters.

Challenges The dwell time at Indian ports has to improve. There are a lot of factors, port congestion, customs clearance, regulatory control, these are the things which need improvement when compared to other countries. Ships have to pay duties and GST which is not charged anywhere else. This becomes a cost which makes Indian shipping less competitive. Long term certainty of policy is very important. India has improved a lot but there is room for more improvement.