Thursday, March 02, 2006

Water Transport

Nature-and Significance

Water transport is considered as a portent of modem civilization, a source of employment and an active agent of progress and the development. Water transport is the oldest and cheapest form for moving goods from one place to another place. It operates on natural tracks and hence does not require huge capital investments in the construction and maintenance of waterways. The path is provided by nature and less investment is required in laying down the track and its maintenance. This mode of transport has the largest carrying capacity and suitable for transport of bulk goods over long distance.

The landmass in the world is connected with various waterways through ocean. Due to thais connectivity the water transport is considered as the best means for transport of bulk commodities. This form of transport is extensively used for the international trade. Ocean transport is favorable because of geographical fact that the oceans and seas are interconnected. British Empire could establish several colonies all over the world due to its well-developed, well-equipped overseas water transport system. Water transport can easily carry goods and commodities of low values and high volume. After discovery of various ocean routes, the economic importance of these routes has been increased significantly. Oceans are considered to be the cheapest and the safest highway to carry passenger and cargo. Water transport can be classified into Inland water transport and Ocean transport.

Inland Water Transport

Transport by rivers, canals and lakes are referred to as 'Inland Water Transport'. Inland Waterways have greatly expanded during 20th century in many countries of the world. It is playing an important role in internal trade and commerce in many countries. Inland waterways may be natural such as navigable rivers or lakes or maybe artificial such as canals. Many rivers provide natural waterways, which can be used for providing transport services through small boats as well as big barges. River transport was one of the oldest modes of transport. It played a very important role prior to the development of modern means of land transport. It provides transport facilities to inaccessible forest areas and other natural regions not connected by roads.

Canals are artificial waterways basically made for irrigation or 'navigation or for the both. Canals can be used as waterways for inland water transport, but huge amount of capital investment is required in the construction and maintenance of such man made artificial waterway. The cost of canal transport is higher than that of the river transport. Apart from this, providing adequate water in the canal to facilitate movement of big boats is considered as a big problem for this mode of transport. Natural lakes provide transport facilities to its coastal areas. Although, the distance covered by lake-transport is less, it provides low cost transport facilities to the areas connected by the lakes.

Advantages of Inland Water Transport

1. Inland water transport is the cheapest mode for certain kind of traffic both for long and short hauls provided the points of origin and destination are located on waterfront and no trans-shipment of goods is involved.

2. It is also one of the most efficient modes of transport from the point of view of energy consumption.

3. It can provide immediate access wherever water exists without requiring investment in line haul capacities as in other mode of transport.

4. Inland water transport is a labor-intensive mode and generates more employment per rupee of investment than any other mode and so particularly benefits weaker section of society.

5. It provides transport for heavy, bulky, non-perishable and low-grade traffic with a low price relative to weight where speed is not an important factor.

6: It provides economical means of transportation of minerals and other bulky dry and liquid raw materials for industries.

7. Being gift of nature, the waterways require no investment for its maintenance.

8. In mountain areas, inland water transport provides excellent service for downhill movement of goods and passengers.

Limitations of Inland Water Transport

(i) This form of transport is slow as compared to other forms of land transport.
(ii) Navigable waterways are not perennial in nature in many areas.
(iii) Transport activity becomes very much-limited in polar region because freezing of water may cause hindrance.
(iv) Heavy capital investment is also required in construction maintenance and dredging operation of canals.
(v) Climatic factors exercise greater influence in case of inland water transport than in any other mode of transport i.e., the routes are often blocked by ice in winter.
(vi) This form of transport can be used where speed and time are not important. Perishable products cannot generally be transported by inland water transport for a longer distance.

National Waterways, The Government of India has so far identified ten important waterways for declaring them as 'National Waterways'. Three out of these ten waterways have already been declared as National Waterways.

The details National waterways are as follows:

(a) National Waterway No.l-(Allahabad and Haldia 0,620 km) stretch of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hoogly river system). Cargo Transportation in the stretch Haldia- Farakka- Patna are being carried out by the Central Inland Water Transport Corporation (CIWDC) and by Goa Barge Owners' Association.

(b) National Waterway No.2 (891 km. The Sadiya-Dhubri stretch of the river Brahmaputra). The CIWTC is operating cargo services between Calcutta and Guwahati. ' .

(c) National Waterway No.3 The Kollam-Kottapuram stretch of West Coast Canal (168 km) along with Champakara Canal (14 km in Kerala). Keral Shipping and Inland Navigation Corporation, ABC and Sons and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited operate cargo services in this waterway.

The responsibility of development and maintenance of National Waterways rests with the Inland Waterways Authority of India.

Charter of Functions of Inland Waterways Authority of India (164)

(i) To carry out economic surveys to assess future traffic potential on main rivers, feeders and creek routes.
(ii) To draw program of river canal conservancy works, including river training works and provision of navigational aids.
(iii) To draw programs of dredging requirements and priorities for efficient maintenance of existing navigable waterways and for revival of dead and dying rivers, channels or canals for navigation.
(iv) To develop, maintain and operate inland river ports landing ghats and terminal facilities in such ports or ghats. .
(v) To maintain pilotage and hydrographic survey services.
(vi) To disseminate navigational and meteorological information including publication of river charts. ,
(vii) To carry out removal of wrecks and obstructions in navigable waterways.
(viii) To fix maximum and minimum fares and freight rates for inland water transport on behalf of the government.
(ix) To approve timetables for passenger services.
(x) To ensure coordination of inland water transport with other forms of transport, with major sea ports and with industries, trade and agriculture interests for optimum utilization of the available transport capacity.
(xi) To conduct research in matter relating to inland water transport including development of : (a) craft design, (b) techniques of towage and (c) landing and terminal facilities.
(xii) To arrange program of technical training for inland water transport personnel.
(xiii) To maintain liaison with the shipyards and ship repairing industries to meet the requirements of the inland water transport fleets, repairs and new constructions.
(xiv) To register country boats and mechanized crafts and issue of certificate of fitness for vessels plying on waterways.
(xv) To issue permit for license for right of operations.
(xvi) To issue certificate/license for various categories of crew of inland vassals.
(xvii) To perform any other functions related to IWT assigned by the government.

Ocean Transport

Navigation through the open sea is known as ocean or sea transportation. Navigation along indented or broken coastline is known as coastal shipping. Coastal shipping is synonymous with domestic shipping by sea between two points in the same country. Ocean transportation is in fact an extension of coastal shipping to wider expanses of water. So, as far as the transportation of goods is concerned inland water transportation and the coastal shipping are of national and intra-regional importance. Ocean transportation is very significant and vital for the growth of international trade. Ocean transport has its origin in the beginning of human civilization. It is considered as an indispensable means for development of foreign trades. It has brought different parts of the world closer for developing one big world market. On account of its operation in natural ocean tracks, this form of transport generally requires no infrastructure investment for providing transport facility.

Coastal Shipping

Coastal shipping is the most energy efficient and comparatively cheaper mode of transport for carriage of bulk traffics over long hauls, particularly when the origin and destination of a traffic stream is located along the coast. It is ideally suited to carry long distance bulk cargo and passenger traffic, especially for destinations located on the waterfront. Coastal shipping can, play an important role in integrated transport network of the country, particularly when inland modes are strained.

Factors determining Ocean routes

Generally ocean going ships follow well-defined routes. They in general follow Great Circle Route i.e. the shortest distance between two points. However at times they have to choose different routes because of physical and economic considerations. The factors responsible for such deviation are as follows:

(a) Suitable weather conditions. The route should be free from storm and fog. Although strong against wind is not a problem for smooth sailing of the ships, it is desirable to sail the ship with wind from economical point of view as it saves fuel cost. Foggy and stormy and icy coast area should be avoided as far as practicable for undertaking commercial shipping.

(b) Deep Waters. Shipping in shallower water should be avoided. Deepness of the water is a pre-requisite feature for smooth sailing of the ship. While choosing a route dangerous shoals and other perils which may endanger the safety of the ship and carrying cargo should be avoided in this route.

(c) Availability of Harbors and Ports. The presence of good ports and harbors with quick loading and unloading facilities are also responsible for choosing a particular route by the transporters.

(d) Availability of full load of traffic. The economies of shipping transport deals with Ship carrying large volume of traffic. Unless full load of traffic is guaranteed, the shipping companies may face loss. Hence they always try to choose a particular route when full load of traffic is guaranteed not only on out-ward journey but also during the return journey.

(e) Availability of cheaper route and fuel supplies. Ships generally use those canal routes where dues are comparatively less. Further availability of fuel supplies and ship maintenance facilities at different ports encourages the shipping companies to choose a particular route.

(f) Shipping Services. The shipping services are organized according to the nature and requirements of goods traffic in International trade, which provides the demand for such services. World trade can be classified in to two broad categories, bulk and non-bulk depending on the type of cargo. Bulk Cargoes include liquid bulk like petroleum and dry bulk like ores, fertilizers, food grains, etc. Traffic in non-bulk category is composed of manufactured, semi-manufactured, process and semi-processed goods and materials moving in cases, packages, parcels, bales etc. These items are generally referred to as “general merchandise” in shipping parlance. So availability of both types of cargo makes a route commercially viable.

Basic Type of Ships (176)

(a) Single Deck Vessels
Such vessels have one continuous deck, which means easy access with one hatch for each hold. The hatch is an opening in a ship's deck. Hatches are used for lowering and taking out large object into and out of the cargo hold of a ship. Many single desk vessels have large hatches and some are known as “self trimmers" because of the provision for the cargo to flow into all corners of the held. These types of vessels are suitable only for heavy bulk cargoes like grain, iron ore, coal etc.

(b) Twin Deck Vessels
Such vessels have additional decks (twin deck) below the main deck, running the full length of the vessel. These vessels are suitable for general cargo. The space is divided into separate tiers and the decks eliminate the risk of cargo damage by preventing too much weight to be put on the cargo at the bottom.

(c) Shelter Deck Vessels
These vessels have additional deck above the main deck's shelter deck, which provides more under deck- space for carrying light cargoes. The shelter deck vessels may be a close type or open type. The difference relates to the measurement of a ship.

(d) Other Types of Vessels
(i) Unitized cargo ships and specialized vessels. These type of vessels include pallet vessels, barge carriers, container ships, RO/LO ships, OBOs, gas carriers, wood carriers, car carriers, oil tankers, refrigerator ships etc.

(ii) Roll-on-Roll-off ships (Ro-Ro). Ferries are now employed on a multitude trade routes based on Roll-on-Roll-off concept. This facilitates loading and unloading of all types of cargoes which can be rolled on horizontally including cars, lorries, and other wheeled type of cargoes. Most large Ro-Ro vessels carry their own specially designed cargo handling facilities. This type of cargo handling facilities helps to load and unload a host of non-wheeled commodities such as pallets bundled goods, pre-slung bags and containers. The cargo operations in a RO-RO ship are extremely speedier and are independent of special shore facilities.

(iii) Barge ships. Barge ships are standard sized ships, which can be towed or pushed by tugs into ports and island water ways and which can be hoisted abroad special Barge carriers with adopted equipment for the Sea voyage. Barges are not internationally standardized. Main advantage of the Barge system over other transport system is its reduced dependence on the infrastructure facilities in the ports and on land. Like containers barges can also be prepared specially for transporting various commodities assists for quick turnaround of publisized ships. Various types of barges are Lash, Sea-bee, Bacat, Super sea-bee.

(iv) Cellular ships. Such ships have holds designed to form a series of cells into which the containers are placed.

(iii) Panamax. The bulk carriers with a breadth which can pass through the panama canal ( 106 ft wide) are described as the panamax type. Such bulk carriers carry upto 80,000 tonnes of cargo and are popular as the handi sized bulkers with 10,000 dwt.

(iv) Bulker container carrier. The container or bulker is a recent development. Such ships are also known as "Conbulkers" .

(v) Very large crude carriers (VLCC) Ultra large crude carriers (ULCCs). VLCCs are very large crude carriers with a capacity ranging between 2,00,000 to 3,00,000 dwt., while ULCCs are ultra large crude carriers in the size range of over 3,00,000 dwt.

(e) Multi-purpose Vessels
In recent year's multi-purpose vessels have been developed to cater the need of transporting different variety of cargo. These vessels charge more for transporting than liner vessels, but cheaper than container ships, Ro-Ro vessels and barge ships. These vessels can be classified into four main categories;

(i) Combination General Cargo Liner and Containers. These vessels are designed to accommodate not only containerized cargo but also general cargo.

(ii) Combination Bulk Carriers and Container Vessels. The open hatch nature of many modern bulk carriers also carry containerized cargo. The flexibility of vessels of this type facilitates their use on different route. The hatch is an opening in a ship's deck. hatches are used for lowering and taking out large objects into and out of the cargo hold of a ship.

(iii) BO-RO vessels. There are ships, which can carry RO-RO cargo and containers on the one leg of the voyage and bulk cargo on the return trip.,

(iv) Combination Container and RO-RO Vessel. With the advent of multimodal transport, these vessels are very important. They generally carry container on deck and in the front holds, while rolling cargoes are loaded through Ramps often located in the stern. Ramps are slopping passages connecting two different levels. These are used for movement between decks in RO-RO ships.

Type of Shipping Services

Basically there are three types of shipping viz.
(I) Tramp Shipping or chartering,
(II) Liner shipping, and
(III) Tankers shipping.

According to Rojer Comoy "the tramp is a freight vessel that does not run in any regular line but takes cargo wherever the shippers desire". Tramps are generally chartered for a full and complete cargo. Its main purpose is the carrying of full shipload of cargo of wide variety from many shippers to many receivers. Such ships offer services basically on induction. There is no commitment to provide the service at a fixed rate and according to the schedule. When a tramp ship is engaged for carriage of cargo, it is said to be under charter as either the whole of the bulk or one charterer hires its space. The rates in the tramp market are determined purely by the free interplay of forces of demand and supply.

Nature of Tramp Trade
(a) The market for supply and demand for shipping services of bulk commodities has been traditionally known as the "tramp markets" or "chartered market". Tramp trade refers to the business of hiring out the bulk carriers to carry cargoes of homogeneous variety in large quantities from one port to another. A tramp ship means a ship, which is not committed to any discipline in terms of rates, for its service. Tramps are cargo vessels suitable for movement of bulky goods.

(b) Tramp trade does not have any fixed ports of loading the discharge. There is no periodicity of shipments and tramps are engaged on terms and conditions including freight rates/ hire charges, which is mutually agreed between ship owners and the charters.

(c) Tramp owners are always looking for ports, where profitable cargo is likely to be found. Charters are looking for tramps, which are available for hiring at competitive rates. Freight rate/ hire-charge in tramp trade is generally decided by the loss of supply and demand of tonnage/cargoes and various other technical and commercial factors. Thus, tramp engagement is accomplished without any given set of conditions and rules.


The market for shipping services to transport general merchandise is known as Liner shipping. Liners ships follow certain routes and ply on the advertised dates irrespective of the quantity of cargo they receive for transportation. But, the need to achieve economies in operation, availability of full load of cargo is a necessity. Manufactured and semi-manufactured goods require such shipping services as these goods can be forwarded from one point to another in such a way that the marketing requirements are met at regular intervals. They render speedier shipping services to different markets, at reasonable rates of freight for different items and on a regular basis according to a schedule. There are two types of liner shipping.

(a) Passenger Liners
These liners primarily carry passengers and mails, but may also carry comparatively small cargo. These liners have a fast speed and provide a comfortable service. In order to make better use of capacity; passenger liners employ their vessels for cruises, particularly in the off-seasons.

(b) Cargo Liners
These liners are the ships meant primarily for carrying cargo and at the same time also they carry a few passengers. They also have a rapid speed but are not as spacious as passenger liners. This type of steamer really performs the function of both tramp as well as a liner as it carries large quantities of cargo and limited number of passengers. Some of the ships are specially built and contain facilities of cold storage and refrigeration. These liners are specialised in transporting particular cargo. These liners are equipped with loading and unloading equipment to and from quays or lighters using their own gear exclusively. "'In order to minimize manual handling cost, goods are categorized and classified to meet the requirements of mechanical handling. This can be done by containerization. Palettes or containers provide great ease in handling cargo loads. Both passenger and cargo liners have regular fixed routes, time and rate schedules.

Tankers are the vessels, which are specially designed to carry oil, petrol and such other liquids. Large sized super tankers are now being built to carry petroleum products and other liquid products from the producing area to the area of consumption.

Chartering of Ships
There are various types of chartering of ships for carriage of bulk cargoes.
(a) Voyage charter. In case of a voyage charter:-
(i) A ship is chartered for the shipment of an agreed quantity of cargo from a port to another agreed port or ports.
(ii) The charterer agrees to pay a certain amount known as freight which can be computed either on a lump-sum basis or per ton basis.
(iii) In a voyage charter the owner is not only to meet the running expenses of the ship like officers/crew wages, stores, provisions, insurance etc, but also operating expenses like port charges, light dues, bunker cost etc.
(iv) In voyage charter, normally the cargo expenses are borne by the charter/shipper/receiver and hence the freight rate is expressed on FIO i.e. "Free in and out". In some instances, the loading expenses are to be borne by the ship owner in which case the freight is quoted on "gross load" basis. Sometimes freight is quoted on FIOT i.e. "free in and out trimmed" or FIOST "free in and out spout and trimmed".
(v) The ship owner acts as the carrier and responsible for all expenses in the running and operation of the ship. The charterer pays only the thread charges as agreed upon.
(vi) In a voyage charter a ship is engaged for either a single voyage or for consecutive/round voyages for shipment of an agreed quantity of cargo. The ship owner undertakes to provide the vessel to the charterers for carriage of agreed cargoes from one of the two agreed ports to be discharged at the named port or ports within a certain range at rates and conditions mutually agreed in advance. The ship may be put at the charterer's disposal by letting out its full capacity or part of it. Some times, the ship's capacity may be let out to more than one charterer, in which case the ship owner enters into different agreements with the individual charterer.
(vii) The ship owner under the voyage charter are to direct the master of the vessel to report of the named port for the first loading within a specified time period after the signing of the agreement or at or before an agreed date as stipulated in the agreement. If the vessel does not report for loading accordingly the chatterer may cancel the contract or can claim damage for any consequential loss.

Computation of Freight. For engaging a tramp on voyage basis the chatterer has to pay certain freight. Freight can be computed either on a lump-sum basis or per-ton basis. Thus, where freight payable is on the actual quantity of cargo loaded, freight is calculated on per-ton basis or on dead weight capacity put on a charterer’s disposal. Alternatively lump-sum freight may also be charged.
India’s coastline of about 6,000 km is dotted with 13 major and 185 other ports. Nearly 95 per cent of the country’s foreign cargo (by volume) moves by sea and, therefore, ports/and their development assume an important place in policy making. Development and maintenance of India’s major ports are the responsibility of the Central Government, while Other Ports are in the Concurrent list.

Major Ports

India’s major ports are governed by the Indian ports Act 1908 and the Major Port Trusts Act 1963. The former allow the Statutory to declare any port a major port, define port limit, levy charges etc. while the formation of Port trust Boards and vests the administration control and management of major ports in these Boards.

Development of port after the independence, the development of major ports was taken up in a planned manner. Mechanization and modernizations of cargo-handling facilities at Ports have been a thrust area in recent years, with emphasis on development of dedicated infrastructure. Deepening of ports to receive lager vessels has been another priority area. Vishakhapatnam and Chennai ports have already been deepened.

Name of the 13 major ports

Calcutta, Haldia, Paradeep, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Tuticorin, Jawaharlal Nehru Port at Nhava Sheva, Kandla, Vishakhapatnam, New Mangalore, Marmugao and Ennore Port Trust.
All these major ports are equipped with latest material handling equipment. The capacity of India Ports increased from 20 million tonnes of cargo handling in 1951 to 390 million tonnes as on March 2004. The number of cargo vessels handled at major ports is about 16,000 per annum. Containerization of major ports is increasing rapidly.

Consequent upon adoption of open market economy, Port sector has been opened for private investment. Various areas of Port Functioning such as leasing out existing assets of the port, creation of additional assets, leasing of equipment for port handling and leasing of floating craft from private sector, pilotage and captive facilities for port based industries have been identified for participation/investment by the private sector.


Packers Movers said...

Canals are artificial waterways basically made for irrigation or 'navigation or for the both. Canals can be used as waterways for inland water transport, but huge amount of capital investment is required in the construction and maintenance of such man made artificial waterway.

Leena Roy said...

Nice! I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work.

international air freight & international freight forwarder