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Measures to ease traffic: How Centre, State govt can ease freight movement

Measures to ease traffic: How Centre, State govt can ease freight movement The NHAI introduced radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags called FASTags for electronic toll collection across national highways.

Earlier during this fiscal year, the government accorded infrastructure status to the logistics sector . The objective of this move is to provide easy financing to the sector to promote its development, and in the long run help Indian exports become more competitive globally, benefiting from lower logistics costs . The implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), too, was expected to reduce the logistics costs by reducing the number of check posts at interstate borders .

According to some estimates, logistics contributes nearly 15% to India s gross domestic product (GDP) . In January 2018, the Financial Times carried an article mentioning how GST has enabled Indian trucks to cover more distance each day, and how it has fuelled warehousing business in cities, where it wasn t preferable prior to the implementation of GST.

According to 2014 World Bank estimates, Indian truckers spend only about 40% of their time driving their vehicle . The rest is wasted in stationary activities such as traffic jams, check posts, refuelling, repairs, rest, etc .

This would have certainly improved with the development of highways in recent years and the implementation of GST . The same is evident from the World Bank s Logistics Performance Index, where India improved its rank to 35 in 2016 from 54 in 2014 . While all these recent developments in the transport and logistics sector deserve an applause, there is still a long way to go in improving the status of our road transportation system .

According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) website, about 65% of freight and 80% passenger traffic is carried by the roads . India has the second-largest road network in the world, spanning around 55 lakh kilometres . While India s road length is impressive, highways constitute only about 2% of that .

In fact, the country s share of national highways is nearly half that of global average . It s the same story for the average speed of traffic on Indian roads . Here are some practical suggestions that can be instrumental in aiding the traffic on Indian highways.

The NHAI introduced radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags called FASTags for electronic toll collection across national highways .

However, most of the toll plazas have only one lane dedicated for FASTag users, which, more often than not, has the longest queue . In fact, most of the times, non-tag users also use the FASTag lane and defeat the entire purpose of electronic toll collection . There should be penal action against non-FASTag users who enter the FASTag lane .

At the same time, at many toll plazas, the tag reader is unable to read the tag . In such an event, the toll attendant has to manually use a gun to read the tag . This, too, adds to time and congestion at the toll plaza .

Adding more dedicated tag lanes will surely encourage the adoption of tags and serve the purpose of easing traffic through the toll plazas.

Multiplicity of tags, too, hinders the adoption of e-tags . There should be one toll tag across all toll plazas in the country . A system can be easily put in place where toll deducted from one tag is transferred to the concerned toll operator .

For example, residents of the Mumbai metro area need to have a separate tag (MEP toll tag) for various tolls across the city, including the Bandra-Worli Sea Link . Moreover, the same cannot be topped up online with ease . The shortage of dedicated tag lanes and non-tag users entering tag lanes persists here as well.

Highways pass through a number of towns and cities, and that is where most of the improvement needs to be brought about .

For instance, residents of Delhi NCR got a huge respite from traffic snarls when Delhi Noida Direct (DND) Flyway and Delhi Gurgaon Expressway tolls were done away with . The Maharashtra government, too, should take note of the massive jams at the Mumbai toll plazas and weigh the costs and benefits of the same . The road freight as well as commuters travelling on NH-48 and onwards to Navi Mumbai and JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port) face a situation similar to what was in Delhi NCR at the time of tolls on DND and Gurgaon Expressway .

While this is not to say that tolls should be done away with completely, but when there are situations where toll plazas hinder smooth and swift movement of traffic, these plazas need to be improved and the toll operator should be held responsible and penalised if no improvement is seen . Strict implementation of traffic rules, too, can help ease congestion on our national highways . The case in point being the Delhi Gurgaon Expressway in particular .

At nearly all the entry points of this Expressway, road signs mention that two-wheelers and three-wheelers are not permitted . However, they still ply freely under the eyes of the traffic police stationed all along . Two-wheelers and three-wheelers plying on highways, where four-wheelers and heavy traffic move at high speeds, not only jeopardise themselves but also create a hazard for other traffic and slow down its movement .

The similar is the case with most flyovers across the country, which explicitly mention that no heavy goods vehicles would be permitted on the flyovers, yet they ply freely on them.

While traffic signals promote safety on the road, they add to logistics costs as well . Many a times too many traffic signals on a short stretch of road hinder the movement of traffic rather than aiding it . City planners and police should take a careful re-look at the signals and see which all signals can be done away with .

More free U-turns on roads, flyovers with free underpasses and free left turns can go a long way in easing traffic congestion and reducing travel times . There have been various proposals across metro cities to ban entry of heavy commercial traffic during day time . While this eases the life of city commuters, it does have an adverse impact on cost and time of transportation of goods .

With such bans in place, it is also not an uncommon sight when toll operators permit a few vehicles to pass through the city during prohibited hours for a bribe.

Plans by the Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari to build a sea route between Vasai-Virar creek and JNPT and Mumbai Port Trust and JNPT are welcome . Such alternative modes of transport are the need of the hour . According to government estimates, it takes Rs 1.5 per unit of a certain quantity of goods to transport the items from one place to another by road, Rs 1 per unit to transport goods by railway, but it takes only 10-20 paisa if they are transported by sea/water .

This can significantly bring down logistics costs . Not only will such plans ease and improve the life of city residents but at the same time will also ease freight movement . Similar alternative routes and dedicated freight routes should be planned around industrial tows and metros.

The Transport Corporation of India (TCI) and IIM Calcutta estimate road delays to cost India $21.3 billion annually .

While the government is heading in the right direction of promoting alternative and multi-modal means of transport, these will take some time to get implemented and bear fruit .

In the interim, respective state governments and city municipalities should be proactive and undertake quick-fix measures to ease traffic at their own levels and support the logistics sector.

Anuj Agarwal
Author is a corporate economist
Views are personal

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Weekly Look at Some of the Smaller Road Haulage, Freight Forwarding and Logistics Stories

Some Slices of News from Around the Industry You May Have Missed Shipping News Feature UK With a blanket of snow and ice covering Britain the suggestion from the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon that road freight firms should keep trucks off the country’s trunk roads, was met with derision by Road Haulage Association (RHA1) chief executive Richard Burnett, who pointed out that, due to the very nature of the logistics industry, many of the HGVs on the road will be half way through a 3-4 day journey and have no alternative but to press on until they reach their delivery destination.

He went on to say that this issue simply highlighted the shocking lack of facilities on the trunk road system where drivers can rest safely, a subject long a bone of contention, concluding: In many cases, particularly in isolated areas, an HGV will be the only vehicle with the capability of getting through . The drivers of these vehicles should be applauded not pilloried.

UK WORLDWIDE The British International Freight Association (BIFA2) has issued yet another warning to the industry of the dangers of cyber attacks . The organisation has urged all its members to conduct a review of security in light of the horrendous cost of the attacks last year on industry giants Maersk3 and Clarkson s4 along with other institutions . The Maersk attack alone is estimated to have resulted in costs to the group exceeding $300 million .

Robert Keen, director general of BIFA said: “With businesses continuing to push for digitisation and connected systems, it is impossible to deny the rising importance of cyber security for global supply chains . BIFA takes advice from various experts on this matter and we believe it would be prudent for members to review their IT-related security processes, with a view to identifying and remedying any obvious weaknesses.

We are encouraging our members to contact a reputable IT supplier with expertise in cyber security to discuss this matter . BIFA has found that some insurers especially those providing business interruption insurance policies can also provide assistance. WORLDWIDE Date analysis firm WorldACD5, which looks at the global air cargo situation, reports that in 2017 the average worldwide yield for special cargo (excl .

perishables) was 45% higher than for general cargo; a year earlier, the difference was 50% . General cargo grew with 11% as against 7% growth for other cargo categories; the figures for 2016 were 3% and 5% respectively . High tech, flowers and pharmaceuticals showed the highest absolute growth of all special cargo.

2018 would seem to be off to a very good start but only February figures can confirm this, with virtually all airlines recording January revenue growth, more than one third of all reporting airlines realised volume increases from 10 – 50%, and worldwide volume was up by 8.5% (from Europe and Latin America by more than 11%) . Africa saw a dip of 6.7% year on year, but it was also the only region showing a positive $ yield change month-over-month of 1.8% . All other origin regions recorded $ yield drops from 1 – 10% month on month, bringing them back from the lofty peaks they reached towards the end of 2017.

WORLDWIDE Union group the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) met in Manila with the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) last month to thrash out a the final negotiations for the creation of the new International Bargaining Forum (IBF) Framework Agreement 2019-2022 . The JNG comprises maritime employers from around the globe to present a coordinated view to the unions. The terms arrived at were latterly agreed by the ITF s expanded Fair Practices Committee Steering Group which particularly highlighted the new terms appertaining to the Dockers Clause .

This clarifies the dockers right to carry out lashing and other cargo handling services in ports, a bone of contention in recent times with some ship owners preferring crew to attend to securing containers and the like.Main points of the new framework can be seen here6 which include the re-grading of waters off the coast of Somalia up to a war risk area. ETHIOPIA SOMALILAND The DP World7 operated Port of Berbera in Somaliland has seen shares in the facility redistributed under a new agreement signed this month . The port will now see DP World hold a 51% stake in the project, Somaliland 30% and Ethiopia the remaining 19% .

The government of Ethiopia will also invest in infrastructure to develop the Berbera Corridor as a trade gateway for the inland country, which is now seen as one of the fastest growing countries in the world. There are also plans to construct an additional berth at the Port of Berbera, in line with the Berbera master plan, which DP World has already started implementing, while adding new equipment to further improve efficiencies and productivity . The first cranes are scheduled to arrive later this year.

US The Port of Oakland8 is awaiting planning permission for a major project which will see a landmark logistics campus developed in the port s long-anticipated Seaport Logistics Complex . The port authorities consider this complex as a linchpin of the port s future, a distribution hub driving additional containerised cargo across the Oakland docks. Port officials met with developer CenterPoint Properties 9board members last month to tour the 27-acre building site .

Both sides have since expressed hope for a mid-year start to construction . Industrial real estate giant CenterPoint is building a 440,000-square-foot facility at the Port . It will be adjacent to the Port s new $100 million railyard .

Marine terminals will be just across the street. Port Commissioners approved a long-term lease for CenterPoint last December . The deal followed two years of negotiations .

It culminated years of planning by the Port to develop land once used as an Army supply depot . The project is the first phase of a planned Seaport Logistics Complex that could eventually encompass 180 acres to distribute freight in and around the port . Port officials said no other US port has the land to duplicate Oakland s marriage of transportation and logistics capabilities.

GREECE The box ship group Diana Containerships10 has, through two separate wholly-owned subsidiaries, has signed an agreement to sell to an unaffiliated third party the MV Sagitta and the MV Centaurus, each built in 2010, for US$12.3 million each . The company expects the vessels to be delivered to the buyer at the latest by April 27, 2018. Upon completion of this new sale and the previously announced sales of two Post-Panamax container vessels and one Panamax container vessel, Diana Containerships Inc .

s fleet will consist of 6 container vessels (4 Post-Panamax and 2 Panamax). UK DK Fulfilment (DKF11) Ltd and Intelligent Robots 12have been awarded an Innovate UK13 grant to begin trials of an intralogistics robot transport system at DKF s dedicated fulfilment facility in Coventry . The trials are scheduled to begin in June and will see DKF install a fleet of Intelligent Robots RPUCK autonomous mobile conveyor robots at its 165,000 square foot site.

The RPUCK model is described as the world s simplest conveyor robot and has been designed to reduce the time that order picking staff spend pushing trolley loads around a store . In simple terms, with RPUCK workers pick orders directly on to a trolley within a designated picking zone and, once a trolley is full, a robot delivers an empty trolley to the picker and takes the full load directly to the packing and dispatch area of the store . Mark Elward, managing director of DK Fulfilment, commented:

Third party logistics (3PL) warehouses have traditionally been manually driven, but with the growth in online retail and the well-documented warehouse labour shortages, more and more 3PLs simply must consider automation as a way of improving operational efficiency, so we are delighted to be working with Intelligent Robots on this exciting trial. Unlike other systems, RPUCK technology is simple to install and requires no laser or magnetic guidance methods . Innovate UK is the operating name of the Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s innovation agency .

It award grants to help UK businesses realise the potential of new technologies, develop ideas and make them a commercial success . Zheng Lin, CEO, of Intelligent Robots, said: So far robotic solutions have been technology rather than process driven, which we believe explains the lack of adoption we have seen – particularly in logistics .

We want to turn this on its head by taking a fundamentally holistic approach to tackling business and technology challenges. The Innovate UK grant not only gives us the opportunity to validate that our approach is valuable for a wide range of businesses, but, under the guidance of DK Fulfilment, we believe the trial will support our belief that our product is a genuinely innovative solution. US The French owned ground handling company Worldwide Flight Services (WFS14) says its North American operations have made a successful start to 2018 by winning and renewing cargo handling, ramp and passenger services contracts with airline customers at eight US stations .

At Houston s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, WFS won the freighter handling contract for Turkish Airlines new twice-weekly flights to Istanbul . The agreement extends WFS existing relationship with the airline. New cargo handling contracts have also been awarded to WFS by Aer Lingus in Seattle for its new four times weekly flights to Dublin, starting in May, while, in Miami, Ethiopian Airlines has chosen to partner with WFS to support its new route from Addis Ababa .

WFS expects to handle some 5,200 tonnes of freight per annum for the airline . DHL Air has also renewed contracts with WFS in both Kansas City and St . Louis.

Meanwhile three new ramp handling contracts have been awarded to WFS since the start of the year in Newark . All three-year contracts, these see WFS now serving Austrian Airlines, Primera Air and Swiss International Air Lines at the airport . Swiss currently operates seven services a week to and from Newark, while Austrian operates five .

Primera Air is also launching seven services per week in April and it s not just in the US where WFS is enjoying new contract success . In neighbouring Canada, it has signed a three-year contract with Lufthansa to handle some 6,000 tonnes a year onboard its services from Frankfurt. INDIA Maersk Supply Service15 has successfully completed the first contract for one of its Stingray-class new-build subsea support vessels, Maersk Installer, with McDermott .

Maersk joined the project off the eastern Indian coast in January as part of an ongoing development by the country s largest energy production operation the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

The contract utilised the Stingray s capabilities to work in challenging conditions using its 400 tonne active heave compensation (AHC) crane to load and install rigid jumpers which connect subsea structures.

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  1. ^ RHA (www.rha.uk.net)
  2. ^ BIFA (www.bifa.org)
  3. ^ attacks last year on industry giants Maersk (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  4. ^ Clarkson s (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  5. ^ WorldACD (www.worldacd.com)
  6. ^ seen here (www.itfglobal.org)
  7. ^ DP World (web.dpworld.com)
  8. ^ Port of Oakland (www.portofoakland.com)
  9. ^ CenterPoint Properties (centerpoint.com)
  10. ^ Diana Containerships (www.dcontainerships.com)
  11. ^ DKF (www.dkfulfilment.co.uk)
  12. ^ Intelligent Robots (i-r.io)
  13. ^ Innovate UK (www.gov.uk)
  14. ^ WFS (www.wfs.aero)
  15. ^ Maersk Supply Service (www.maersksupplyservice.com)
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