Maritime logistics in the country can be improved only with better infrastructure facilities, said experts during a panel discussion organized by the India Maritime University Kochi, Central University under the Ministry of Shipping on the theme of implications of logistics in the maritime sector.
The discussion chaired by G Raghuram, director of IIM Bangalore, saw the eminent speakers such as Jose Paul, former chairman, Mormugao Port Trust; Prakash Iyer, president of Cochin Steamer Agents Association; Ajithkumar Sukumaran, principal officer-cum-Jt DG of MMD Kochi; Capt. Joseph J Alappat, harbor master, Kochi Port Trust.
“Developing countries in the world incur a transport cost of 22 per cent on the import value of their goods. Whereas the developed countries in the world spent nearly 11 per cent. There is a 100 per cent difference in this. It underlines the need for better infrastructure facilities in our country in order to make an impact in the field of logistics,” said Jose Paul during the discussion.
Commenting on the upcoming Vizhinjam Port, Iyer said joint efforts of all the stakeholders are essential for making logistics a success. He also stressed the port’s importance to stakeholders in south India’s hinterland. Unlike the Vizhinjam project, which has seen stoppages in construction mainly due to bad weather conditions and persistent cyclones, several other ports like Dighi have been engulfed by administrative lockdowns and their future can now only be described as questionable.
Ajithkumar stressed the importance of improving the maritime sector through the integration of technology and artificial intelligence. He also threw a limelight on remodeling the curriculum of maritime universities to meet future needs.
Alappat discussed the challenges being faced by the government and private ports in India with respect to tariff and decision-making mechanism. “At present, 97 per cent of the cargo transportation is carried out by the private parties. Only 3 per cent of the transportation is carried out by the government parties. This needs to be improved,” he said. If a PPP model can be established to solve this problem, the public integration part of it will be less risky and resource intensive.
On the other hand, Raghuram discussed various topics making it to headlines in the logistics sector, including DDP Policy, cabotage law relaxation and India as a transhipment hub. He also commented briefly on the government’s decision to recall the much-debated DPD scheme. He summarized the way ahead for India logistics industry is through SWIFT – Sustainability, Warehousing, Information and technology, Fragmentation, Transport infrastructure.