Chabahar’s interim operator selected, work starts tomorrow

India has selected an Iranian company, Kaveh Port and Marine Services, to run the Chabahar port in Iran for 18 months until it selects a firm to manage and maintain the facility for a longer term, informs Hindustan Times.

The Bandar Abbas-based company was chosen as an interim solution in order to comply with the contractual timeline and to start operations at the newly built strategic port already this week. Another reason could be the new sanctions that might be imposed by the United States on Iran, which force India to advance cautiously in this country.

“We have been able to enter Chabahar port for interim operations, which will start from June 13,” said India’s Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna.

The Ministry of Shipping has also started the process of inviting new bids to select an Indian partner to manage, operate and maintain the container and multi-purpose terminals at the Chabahar port for the next 10 years.

None of the three companies – Adani, JSW and International Cargo Terminal and Infrastructure Private Limited — shortlisted in the technical bid earlier, participated in the financial bid due to stringent conditions. One of the clause required the successful bidder to pay an upfront payment of USD 8.52 mln as premium.

Now the government intends to ease some of the tender terms, including removing the clause to pay the premium to encourage the Indian firms to participate in the new round.

One of the officials said: “We were charging a premium from the successful bidder to meet our preliminary expenses. But the shortlisted bidders said that the project is of strategic importance and is not commercially viable.”

As we wrote earlier, the port of Chabahar is Iran’s only oceanic port, located in the Sistan-Baluchistan province on the southeastern coast. Lying outside the Persian Gulf, it provides India with an alternative and reliable access to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.

The project is managed by India Ports Global, a 60/40 JV between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Deendayal Port Trust (previously Kandla Port Trust), in partnership with Iran’s Aria Banader. According to Indian sources, India Ports Global ordered 4 rail mounted quay cranes for a total USD 29.8 mln from the Chinese port crane manufacturer ZPMC and 14 rubber tyred gantry cranes for about USD 18 mln from Finnish crane maker Cargotec. The key equipment is expected to be deployed by the time the Indian port operator is finally selected.

Julia Louppova:
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