Ever since India struck its first privatisation deal in 1996 when Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal was awarded to global port operator P&O (since bought by Dubai Ports), Indian ports have attracted Rs 7,585 crore in private investment: an average of Rs 700-plus crore a year. That’s still a trickle compared to the Rs 7,000 crore per year required in the next five years, but it has helped. The average turnaround time for Indian ports has improved from 5.23 days in 1998-99 to 3.5 days now.
Then, efficiency has taken a hit, even in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), which handles more than half the containers being shipped to India, despite two of its terminals being privatised.
Ramnath Iyer, director at Delhi-based Crisil Risk and Infrastructure Solutions, says the average time a ship has to wait before docking on to a berth at JNPT, the most efficient port, is 10 hours. In Singapore, the waiting period is zero; in Colombo, it is just two hours. The time taken for a ship to unload and leave the berth — the turnaround time — in JNPT is 1.98 days, in Singapore just 12 hours, and in Colombo, 15 hours.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.