Lockdown in Indian Ports can Impact Emergency Shipments

4 mins read  Sealuminati TeamMay 16, 2021

Many Indian ports, especially significant ports handling shipments from China, are expected to close during the country's crippling surge of COVID-19 crises. Chinese logistics firms fear that more disruptions in emergency medical and freight transportation could be caused by the suspended operations.

It has been reported that the Chennai port has greatly reduced its activities. The port agreed to limit its staffing and installations to 11:00 am to 6:00 pm each day and request other personnel to operate from a distant location.

“We are asking clients in China to plan to move shipping routes from Chennai to other ports," said Xie Cheng, Kahan International Export Boss, a big logistics firm headquartered in Foshan, Guangdong Province of Southern China.

Chennai, along with New Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata, is one of the top four ports for shipments between India and China. Chennai Port is a key port for major Chinese phone manufacturers and new-energy vehicle manufacturers with operations in India, such as Vivo and BYD. The decrease in port personnel is expected to take about four days to two weeks to increase customer turnaround time.

As several ports become busy, emergency medical supplies, as well as telecoms and clothes, are being disrupted, prompting attempts by the government to prioritize the treatment of medical supplies. The pandemic, which significantly decreases the number of truck drivers and suppliers willing to take freight from customs according to Xie, would paralyze local logistics networks.

Many ports have also shown signs of tension. At the end of last month, the port in Kandla was closed from 24 April due to a rapid revival of COVID 19 incidents, the closest port to New Delhi, the Indian capital, and the largest port in India by container traffic. The reopening is yet to be announced.

The major port to import coal into India, Visakhapatnam, has also declared on Friday that its activities would halt until 19 May.

Shipping prices from China to India roughly multiplied four times in May compared to March. As of the end of last month, the cost of delivering a small container to India had risen to nearly $2,000, rising from $500 in regular days.

"The prices have risen since most exports to India are now one-way," Xie said. "Vessels bound for India can only return to China with empty containers."