Chennai port flooded; exports of auto, others held up
Operations at the Chennai port, especially in the container segment have been thrown awry by the catastrophic floods that have hit the city.
“Movement of containers have been severely impacted. This will have a cascading impact for a prolonged period even after the floods are over,” Cyril C George, deputy chairman at the Chennai Port, told ET.
Containers are usually deployed to carry specialised items including machinery parts and even fully built vehicles. George said bulk cargo operations has also been impacted but that liquid handling is still fine.
“We are trying to assess the exact impact and will come up with some estimates shortly,” he said.
Chennai Port, one of the busiest in the country, handles 1.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of container cargo and 52 million bulk cargo annually, said George.
Chennai has been facing the heaviest rainfall in a century, leading to massive disruption of life and property, driving people from their homes, forcing a shutdown of factories and of the city’s airport.
Top cargo operators have seen their businesses come to a standstill.
Gateway Distriparks, the top container operator out of Chennai port, has had to shut down its container freight station even though it’s just 15 km away from the port. “Business has come to a complete standstill. The roads are flooded and reservoirs are overflowing,” said Govindarajan Kannan, president, marketing and operations at the company.
Auto majors such as the Indian units of Hyundai and Ford have been severely impacted.
“The management of Hyundai Motor India has announced their decision to suspend plant operations for all three shifts on 3rd and 4th December due to the persistent inclement weather. Operations will resume on 5th Dec 2015,” said a company spokesperson.
Hyundai does all its exports—about 15,000 vehicles a month—through the Chennai port.
The floods would also impact Ford Motor which exports close to 6,000 vehicles a month from Chennai.
A company spokesperson at Royal Enfield said: “Due to the rains, in November we lost production of 4,000 motorcycles. We are working to ensure that all our employees are safe. We are monitoring the situation closely and hoping for normalcy to return soon.”
Two-wheeler maker TVS Motor too will be impacted although its factories are yet unaffected, said an executive.
“As far as our operations go, our factories situated in Hosur (Tamil Nadu), Mysore (Karnataka) and Nalagarh (Himachal Pradesh) are currently operational. As mentioned in our sales release, there was a slight impact on our production in the month of November due to inclement weather in Chennai. We are watching the situation closely,” a company spokesman said.