Thursday, 16 April 2009

Leaving India

As you may know if you have followed my blogs I've been in India since December and I am soon to leave the subcontinent for Thailand as not to spend the rainseason here.

Firstly one do not want to spend the rainseason here as everything gets inundated in water, flooding is very common. Secondly the seas are very rough as the monsoon will bring the swell in from the Indian Ocean. In Thailand and Malaysia we can enjoy the sunny day and be safe from the Indian Ocean swell on the East side of Phuket.

Otherwise India has treated me very well, the people have been friendly and helpful, the only thing that nags on ones piece of mind is the bureaucracy, the corruption of officials and the utter inability of contractors to deliver on their promises. There is a paper for everything that is done in India. E.g. just getting a tanker truck of fuel is so difficult and requires so many bribes that it is more easier to get a barge, the cost eventually will be the same.

When planning something to be done reserve thrice the time the contractor estimates, he may still overshoot that timeframe. E.g. in Goa is useless to try and get anything technical done, there are no facilities available. For repairs and services, go to Mumbai.

I can't say that I have experience of other places on the westcoast except Goa and Mumbai. On the way here I had to detour to Port Blair and as usual the Islanders have their own concept of time, services etc. I for one would never do any big works in Port Blair, unless one has a lot of time on their hands and is willing to fly any spares in.

Kalizma at Victoria Docks

On the other hand if you are in Mumbai you can find most services available, skilled Technicians and Engineers, materials and stores. Only thing here again is that either you stay at anchor in front of Gateway of India (where is curfew during hours of darkness) or you can get a berth in Victoria Docks. In VD you will suffer from blowing dust from the field and bird droppings. Washdown every second day is a must. The airpollution in Mumbai is remarkable. Furthermore, it is said that VD will be filled up and made into a container terminal. Surely there must be other solutions VD could be used for, just look at what they did to the old London docks but I suppose it does not have much value for the dinosaurs of Mumbai Port Trust.

Another view w/ Kalizma at VD

I guess the scheme is to make it to an endless government subsidy/ development area as there are several issues that has to be tackled before even one container ship can come alongside. Consider jobs as filling the dock, then dredging the 5m seawall and channel to 12m or more (strengthening the seawall too), after that there is continuous maintenance dredging of the channel required, then consider the infrastructure to transport the containers to and fro the terminal (construction of elevated highway?) not to mention installation of the container cranes and other equipment needed for a container port. As anyone can see all these projects will cost millions if not billions, but the area in question is relatively small considering major container ports like e.g. Shanghai so the question is that will the eventual return even cover the investment?

VD sheds at the tidal gate

Anyway, today I am departing Mumbai for Cochin and from there I will sail to Langkawi, Malaysia to receive some stores and cheap bunkers. I will also check out he new drydocking facility in Lumut. Tell you more about our trip when I've reached Phuket. Until then ta-ta.

Sunil making last call before departure outside of Gate Master's office

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