Ports Operations Begin
Port operations are returning to normal after the disruptions due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the first biggest port in India, reported that it has cleared all its vessel backlogs and hence has ample space now. Also, the third biggest port of the country -Port of Chennai stated that it had cleared around 1,758 TEU within 24 hours of the nationwide lockdown announcement.
Ministry of Shipping Ensures Good Condition of Ships
The Ministry of Shipping reported that the total traffic handled at ports showed an increase of 0.82% in during March-April 2020. This marks a hike of 5.53 million tonnes as against the previous year. Besides, the Ministry is ensuring that the ships engaged in carrying goods are kept in good condition by keeping them adequately manned.
SOPs for the Stranded Crew
Several seafarers are stuck and waiting for the sign off at various Indian ports due to lockdown. Hence, the Shipping Industry has rolled out Standard Operating Procedures to facilitate crew changes of Indian seafarers at Indian ports. For this, the director-general has asked the chairmen of ports to issue e-passes to facilitate seafarers in undertaking the interstate travel.
Shipping industry estimates 40,000 Indian seafarers stuck across the globe. Out of this, 12000 are stranded on cruise liners. The seafarers and other shipping industry workers have asked the government to allow the shipping operations amid the lockdown. They said that the shipping must continue to keep the global economy operating. Further, they also predicted a loss of around 25,000 jobs on cargo ships if the restrictions don’t lift.
Lockdown Restrictions and Port Operations
As several ports declared force majeure due to the pandemic, the port and shipping activities came to halt. Dry bulk chartering sources stated that everything has come to standstill on these ports as they had to suspend activities due to restrictions on the movement of the workforce amid the lockdown. Further, the shutdown slashed the demand for crude oil, that remains biggest traded commodity globally, hence shutting of shipping operations.
In all, many ports forced majeure in the wake of the outbreak. However, they have started lifting the restrictions to continue the operations.