Dubai Ports World expresses concern about 'viability' of Vallarpadam

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Kochi, Nov 16 (UNI) Dubai Ports World has expressed concern about the ''viability'' of India's first international container transshipment terminal (ICTT), coming up at Vallarpadam near here, in view of ''frequent strikes'' disrupting work at Cochin Port.

According to informed sources, Dubai Ports World Vice-President Ganesh Raj has written to Cochin Port Trust Chairman N Ramachandran, expressing concern about the viability of the Vallarpadam ICTT in the present context of frequent strikes disrupting work at Cochin Port and the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal.

The foundation stone for the Rs 3,000 crore ICTT, a major maritime project initiated by India, was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in February, 2005 and the Rajiv Gandhi Container Terminal was transferred to India Gateway Terminals Ltd. (IGTL), a subsidiary of Dubai Ports World, which won the bid to operate the Vallarpadam ICTT.

According to sources, the Dubai Ports World vice-president had said that IGTL had suffered 12 days of work loss during the past 20 months, on account of strikes.

Not only were the deadlines at the terminal disrupted, the strikes were also hampering the efforts to attract new business, it was pointed out.

Stating that the civil works for the Vallarpadam terminal were due to start shortly, Mr Ganesh Raj is learnt to have said that issues pertaining to the smooth functioning of the terminal should be sorted out at the earliest.

While not commenting on the letter, IGTL General Manager Suresh Joseph told UNI, ''the frequent hartals in Kerala and labour action at Cochin Port are posing a challenging environment for us to work in.'' While categorically stating that there was no ''re-thinking'' on the Vallarpadam project on the part of Dubai Ports World, he said that an ''assessment of the conditions'' is being undertaken.

He hoped the Cochin Port authorities will take ''strong action'' to improve the working environment within the port and the Kerala government would pay attention to improving the general business climate in the state.

The missive of the Dubai Ports World functionary assumes significance in view of the lightning strike resorted to by Cochin Port employees, which paralysed the functioning of the port for nearly two days, before being called off last evening.

UNI

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