Strike at Kerala port leaves ships, lorries stranded

August 7th, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Aug 7 (IANS) A flash strike by lorry drivers who bring in the containers to the Cochin Port Trust (CPT) has left ships and hundreds of lorries stranded in and around this Kerala port city. The lorry drivers claimed that they are being treated badly by the India Gateway Terminal Pvt. Ltd. (IGT).

The strike began late Wednesday night and trouble is deepening in and around the port as more and more ships that arrive have to drop anchor in the deep sea.

IGT comes under the Dubai Port World (DPW) which took over the running of the port here a few years back.

“The lorry drivers and the staff of lorries have been treated badly by those who run the port. They have no facilities for rest and have very little canteen facilities. This has been brought to the notice of those who manage the port on several occasions, but no action has been taken,” P.M. Mohammed Haneef, a labour union representative of the Cochin Port Staff Association which is on the board of port trustees, told IANS.

Every day around 1,500 lorries operate to and from the port premises and the labourers complained that they have to wait for long to finish their loading or unloading.

“What should happen in 40 minutes time now takes over six hours,” a group of labourers told mediapersons.

The Dubai Port World officials have asked the state government to intervene and find a solution at the earliest.

The officials at the CPT said the present lightning strike has been called for frivolous issues and hence there is every reason to suspect that there is a conspiracy behind the strike.

They said a discussion will take place once the strike is called off.

“No discussions with the striking labourers have been slated for the day,” said an official of the CPT on condition of anonymity.

IGT, is a special purpose vehicle with 76 percent held by DPW, 15 percent by Container Corporation of India, five percent by Chakiat group and four percent by Transworld Shipping.

The agreement between CPT and IGT has two parts to it. The first is the operation of the Cochin Port by IGT for four years and second is the development of the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam for 34 years on a BOT basis at an estimated cost of Rs.24 billion.

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