Blessed with the second largest coastline in the country measuring 974 kms the maritime sector presents a lucrative economic opportunity for the state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Andhra Pradesh Maritime board thus has a major role to play in making the state a desired place for maritime trade.
Albeit with stiff competition and an increasingly tough business environment APMB has a tough task ahead of not only drawing cargo to its state-owned ports but also wooing investors to aggrandize the infrastructure at some of its minor ports.
Taking this challenging task head on is a former Marine commando Lt Cdr BM Ravindra Nath Reddy (IN Retd.), APMB’s deputy CEO.
No stranger to facing tough and extreme conditions and armed with a never say die attitude, Mr Reddy is leaving no stone unturned in wooing investments and cargo to its ports.
In a freewheeling interview to Vizag Industrial Scan, Mr Reddy spoke on an array of opportunities that the maritime sector presents in Andhra Pradesh and importantly the work he and his team is undertaking in making AP a leading maritime hub.
How important is AP’s maritime sector in the overall scheme of things?
Andhra Pradesh’s maritime sector presents a world of opportunities for us and we are making a sincere effort in harnessing this. The sector is being given paramount importance by our Chief Minister Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy and this is evident through his staunch focus on developing 3 greenfield ports and leading port led industrialization.
What model is being worked upon for these 3 greenfield ports?
Our CM has a clear view and understanding in developing these greenfield ports in order to maximize revenue for the state. In AP we are adapting the landlord model of development wherein the state’s revenue share is higher than what is typically seen in PPP models.
What are some of key tasks you are working on in making AP a maritime hub?
One of my biggest tasks is to increase the states revenue through maritime trade. And to accomplish this we need to draw more cargo to the state and export them through our ports. As I often say ‘What should be going through my ports should go through my ports and what can go through my ports should also go through my ports’. We have identified a plan on drawing more cargo to AP Ports and are working on it.
Could you please elaborate on this?
Many of our Aqua products are being exported from neighbouring state ports. This needs to change and we should be able to export this from our own ports here. In addition the cargo that is exported from other neighbouring states we should become their preferred gateway also. For example 80-90% of container cargo from Hyderabad is being sent from JNPT. This despite the fact that Hyderabad-Kakinada is 50% less in distance compared to JNPT and also keeping in mind the surging road freight. We want to make AP an export and distribution hub to ASEAN countries.
How is APMB addressing this?
We have identified some of the bottlenecks and are working on it. We have had a series of meeting with logistics providers in Hyderabad and are addressing some of their key challenges.
What are some of these key challenges?
Well overall they want a better eco-system which includes enhancing the frequency off feeder vessels. Some of this includes negotiating with vessel operators, identify cargo etc. We want to start of by plucking the low hanging fruits first.
Is Kakinada Deep sea water port’s infrastructure adequate?
In terms of Equipment and infrastructure the Kakinada deep sea water port is well established. We want to substantially increase container cargo from here.
What are some of the other key opportunities you see in this sector?
Agri and Agro processing is for sure a major opportunity area. Chittoor being a horticulture hub we want to harness the huge potential the district presents itself by making it an Agri export hub. Just to give you an example there is an immense potential of Agri exports to UAE. I can easily say there is atleast 100 MT of export opportunity just to UAE. Similarly Kadapa has surplus banana and papaya production and there is a huge demand for it in UAE.
Talking of UAE could you highlight some of the key meetings APMB had in Dubai Expo 2020?
We had a very successful trip and as stated there is immense business and trade opportunities between the two regions. Our meetings with our counterparts there were very fruitful with investors showing keen interest in the maritime sector in Andhra Pradesh. For instance marquee names in the shipping sector both DP World and Sharaf Groups have shown keen interest in investing in AP’s maritime sector.
Apart from Trade are there other avenues of increasing revenue?
Yes. Beyond ports we are also looking at enhancing deep sea fishing, marine tourism etc.