Cochin Steamer Agents Association (CSAA) organised an interactive session to have deliberations amongst coastal operators and shipping lines in Cochin trade with CEO, Kerala Maritime Board, and CEO, Round the Coast, on the new coastal feeder service operated by JM Baxi Group commencing shortly.

The session followed all Covid protocols and was held at 2 pm on June 23, 2021 at CSAA Hall, Willingdon Island. CSAA Secretary Ms Dhanya received Mr T. P. Salim Kumar, IRS, CEO, Kerala Maritime Board (KMB), and Mr Kiran Nandre, CEO, Round the Coast, with bouquets, said a release.

CSAA President Mr M. Krishnakumar welcomed Mr Salim Kumar, Mr Nandre, Managing Committee members of CSAA, and the trade to the session. Mr Nandre briefed on the new service to be augmented this month, connecting Cochin Port to Beypore and Azhikkal, to the shipping and export community. This service was operated earlier but was hindered during March 2019 due to the various challenges faced by the ship operator at that time. Later, the Govt of Kerala announced incentive schemes to promote coastal services for which there was only one-sided cargo and the ship needed to carry empty containers at its cost during the return voyage, making it incompatible with the cost of road transportation.

To promote coastal shipping services, as envisaged by the Govt of India, the Govt of Kerala constituted a committee to study the requirements. Mr Prakash Iyer, former Member, Kerala Maritime Board and Past President of CSAA, was a member of the said committee, along with Capt. Aswini Prathap (Port Officer) and Ms Lida Jacob, IAS (former Vice-Chairperson). They made efforts to submit necessary information and documents to the government proposing the present incentive scheme for the shipping lines.

Mr Iyer spoke about the measures he has taken to re-commence the lost service and also updated on the SOP prepared during his tenure as Member KMB. The new incentive schemes and SOP were some of the reasons for the shipping agency to come forward with its coastal ship service, said a release.

The vessel, m.v. HOPESEVEN, will be commencing her service shortly, connecting the ports in Kerala. Mr Salim Kumar answered all queries raised by steamer agent members and also assured full support to the trade and industry as a facilitator.

He stressed that this service will be an added advantage for the trade and industries, especially in Northern Kerala where industries and chamber of commerce have been patiently waiting for a coastal service. He also requested shipping companies to keep supporting Kerala Maritime Board with new services to other ports viz. Kollam and Vizhinjam.

President Mr Krishnakumar briefed on the volumes and experience in handling cargo through Kollam Port and also assured full support to the new shipping service. He added that cargo from Karnataka can also be attracted through this service to Cochin. Besides, he discussed filing of EGM at the respective ports itself as well as container storage, repair yards, CFSs, etc.

Mr Krishnakumar requested the CEO to call a meeting of the Port Consultative Committee, headed by the Vice-Chairman of the Board, which has not been active for a long time. He also highlighted how Cochin Port and other ports in India function, along with the shipping trade, which can be a model to be followed by KMB.

Since the day he joined as CEO KMB, Mr Salim Kumar was in regular contact with CSAA, offering the best services and to find solutions for Customs EDI facilities, immigration and other requirements of the trade and industry.

Customs, Immigration, PHO and other statutory bodies and their officers, along with Cochin Port and DP World, also assured their support to make this a lasting service. CSAA and its members are trying to promote this sector by declaring Azhikkal, Beypore and Kollam as destination/ origin ports; the bill of lading will be marked accordingly, the release said.

Representatives from major players like MSC, Entrust, Navio, Westship, IFX, Seaways, Aspinwall and Chakiat also attended the meeting.

Mr Varghese, Branch Head, ULSS; Mr Sajith Kumar, Vice-President, JM Baxi; and Mr Binu, Vice-President, CSAA also expressed their views and wished the new venture all success.

On behalf of the members of the steamer agents association, Mr Sajith Kumar thanked the CEO for his support and assured full cooperation for all his endeavours, the release added.

Source: CSAA