The first rake to Nepal, comprising 90 containers, was flagged off on Friday by Visakhapatnam Port Trust Chairman M.T Krishna Babu at the Visakha Container Terminal Private Limited (VCTPL) on Friday, The Hindu reports.
India and Nepal had signed an agreement to open up Visakhapatnam port during the state visit of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to India on Feb 2016.
while flagging off, Chairman Krishna Babu said that the Government of Nepal had notified Visakhapatnam as the second port of call after Kolkata-Haldia. Nepal has been so far using Kolkata Port as the only port for sea transport.
“This is the first time a full-fledged rail rake is going to Nepal from here and we expect the volumes to grow in future, as the draft at the VCTPL is much deeper than at Kolkata-Haldia and bigger vessels can be handled here.” he said.
He said it should be possible for Visakhapatnam to compete with Kolkata-Haldia by reducing the logistics cost, though the latter had the advantage of much shorter distance.
The trade link between Visakhapatnam and Nepal had been under consideration for the last nine years, and it finally materialised. Krishna Babu said the congestion factor was much low here and the turnaround time for the vessel could be brought down.
“It should be possible to send one train in a week from here to Nepal,” he said.
He further added that exporters and importers of Nepal were evincing interest in Visakhapatnam and, as of now, only container cargo was being allowed. At a later stage, bulk cargo might also be considered, he said.
VCTPL Chief Operating Officer Sushil Moolchandani expressed confidence that the volumes from Visakhapatnam to Nepal would grow in view of the potential of the terminal.