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Water transport: Business Potential of National Waterway (NW3) in Kerala

, April 1, 2014, 1 Comments

Water Transport Route NW3 Kerala -MarketExpressWater transport has environmental and economic advantages over other modes of transportation like roads and railways. As an alternative mode of transport, waterways help in dealing with Air pollution and Road Accidents. State of Kerala is not the exception. Though the number of road accidents in Kerala have decreased from 2005, still the number is quite high. ‘Number of deaths’ from road accidents have increased 59% from 2001 and 12% from 2009 (Source: Kerala Police Website). With respect to freight rates, waterways are always cheaper than roadways and cheaper than most of the base classes in railways (exception – 0-50 km LR1 class). Because of its socio-economic advantages, it requires most possible attention.

National Waterway – 3 (NW3) is one of the waterways, which was declared by ‘Inland Waterway Authority of India (IWAI)’in February, 1993. There are other four declared waterways and one proposed waterway in India. IWAI is developing and maintaining the waterway and is responsible for ‘Terminal developments’, ‘Capital Dredging’, ‘Bank protection’, ‘Bridge clearance’ etc.

NW3 is located in the state of Kerala, which runs from Kollam to Kottapuram in West Coast Canal, including Champakkara and Udyogmandal Canal. There are eleven terminals on NW3, which facilitates loading, unloading, storing and inter-city cargo movements. NW3 is connecting ‘Kochi Port’, the business hub of the state, with main land of Kerala.

Challenges & Potential
Future potentiality of business improves with improvements in external and internal factors. International Container Trans-shipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam at Cochin Coast is one of such external factor which will create lot of future potential for IWAI in Kerala. The expectations from ICTT are to attract more international cargo movement through India and to reduce the freight cost of India’s international trade. IWAI has already taken steps to utilize such opportunity. Two special terminals, which support the interchange of containers by LO-LO (Lift On, Lift Off) and RO-RO (Roll On, Roll Off) barges, are constructed on NW3, near Kochi port.

For improvements in internal factors, an organization needs to look inside. The required approach is to provide 360 degree solutions to the existing problems, which is – considering all the major functions of the business. For the matter of simplification, business functions can be defined as follows: ‘Operations’ – ‘what we do’, ‘Marketing’ – ‘what we see’, ‘Human Resource’ – ‘who we are’ and ‘Finance’ – ‘how we survive and grow’. All these four functions are important for businesses and have equal weight-age for business-success.

Following table categorize the activities which help in identifying and monitoring the strategic gaps in business functions:
Water Transport NW3 Kerala -MarketExpress

Insights
In NW3, projected figures regarding cargo movements have underlying consideration that total length of the water channel is operational, which is not all-time true scenario. Capital dredging work, which enables water channels to be operational, may remain unfinished. Commodity wise cargo analysis helps in identifying the type of cargo, its source and destination. Past trend in particular cargo movement helps in mapping its future demand.

Customer oriented ‘marketing and promotion’ activities helps in better target response. Selection of new customers, declaration of separate promotional schemes for new and existing customers, proper media selection to reach the target customers are some of the important steps under ‘marketing and promotion’.

Financing the capital and operational expenditures is another required activity of management. Yearly expenditure analysis, combined with return on investments helps in identifying feasibility in business decisions.

To keep process efficiency high, management need the best possible team. Nurturing existing talent and hiring market best are the two simultaneous activities require by IWAI.

Above all, IWAI is getting steady support from central government. The regional team in Kerala is quite devotional towards their responsibilities and exploring future possibilities. With the available resources, the team need to balance required activities and employ holistic managerial practices. From all perspectives, water transport in India, especially in Kerala, has great future potential.