EghtesadOnline: Chabahar Port handled a total of $800 million worth of commodities in the last fiscal year (March 2018-19) to register a 50% growth compared with the year before, according to the director of Commerce Department of Chabahar Free Zone Organization.
Noting that the port is offering a range of facilities for importers, including discounts on customs duties, Ali Rajabi added that 20 hectares of warehousing facilities are under construction in Chabahar.
“Since imports in bulk outweigh container imports at Chabahar, the port offers two empty warehouses and warehousing discounts of up to 60% to bulk imports,” IRNA quoted Rajabi as saying.
Deputy Industries Minister Hossein Modarres Khiyabani said Chabahar has the capacity of handling up to 8.5 million tons of cargo per year; we are seeking to activate at least 50% of this capacity as soon as possible, Financial Tribune reported.
Currently only 10% of the capacity of Chabahar Port is being utilized, Khiyabani said recently.
"This is while Chabahar has the capacity to host vessels weighing more than 80,000 tons. The port also boasts a wide range of port equipment, including grain suction machines and giant cranes," he was quoted as saying by ILNA, adding that Chabahar Port has the potential to become a major trading hub in Iran.
"Plans are underway to divert ships carrying essential goods to Chabahar to give impetus to throughput in the strategic port," he added.
The government has recently made it mandatory for two major state-run companies to unload and transport their import cargoes via facilities at Chabahar's Shahid Beheshti terminal rather than their traditional destination at Imam Khomeini Port in southwest Iran.
Noting that 17 countries have signaled their readiness to make investment in Iran's only oceanic port town in southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan Province, the deputy minister said plans are to increase customs discounts from 10% to 25%.
Khiyabani said Chabahar Port, along with the three southern ports of Khoramshahr, Imam Khomeini and Shahid Rajaee, are known to be Iran's strategic ports.
“The development of Chabahar is synonymous with economic growth in Sistan-Baluchestan Province,” he said.
Mohammad Rastad, the head of Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran, said that as per the comprehensive plan on Chabahar Port’s development, the execution phase of a new oil platform is scheduled to start next year.
“The construction of the tallest port control tower of the country (at a height of 78 meters above sea level) has started in Chabahar. The control tower, with its vessel traffic service and maritime rescue coordination center, will allow monitoring and secure commodity transit, thanks to the fact that it will give full views of Shahid Kalantari and Shahid Beheshti Ports, the breakwater structure and waterway,” he was quoted as saying by the news outlet of the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development.
According to Director General of Sistan-Baluchestan Ports and Maritime Organization Behrouz Aqaei, as the largest oceanic port of the country with a strategic location and access to international free waters, Chabahar Port has a special place in Iran’s exchange of goods with other regional countries.
As a gateway of trade and business with IORA (Indian-Ocean Rim Association), CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), Afghanistan, Central Asia and proximity to the ports in the Sea of Oman and Indian Ocean, Chabahar Port is the best transit route for regional countries in terms of offshore, onshore and security trade.
The first phase of Chabahar Port was launched in December 2017 by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, opening a new strategic route connecting Iran, India and Afghanistan.
The opening of the first phase of Shahid Beheshti Port (out of five phases defined for the project), which has tripled its capacity to 8.5 million tons (equal to that of all the northern ports of the country), allows the docking of super-large container ships (between 100,000 DWT and 120,000 DWT) and increase India’s connectivity with Afghanistan.
India Global Ports Limited has been tasked with administering the terminal of the first phase of Beheshti at Chabahar.
“The entity is planning to invest $500 million over the next 10 years in the port,” Alireza Jahan, the representative of IGPL Iranian partner, said.
Jahan noted that when Chabahar is connected to Iran's national railroad network, the port will gain a bigger share in the Asian transportation market.
The Iranian Cabinet decided recently to allocate €300 million needed to complete the railroad project connecting the southeastern port city of Chabahar to the eastern city of Zahedan near the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan, both in Sistan-Baluchestan Province, from the National Development Fund of Iran, the country’s sovereign wealth fund.
The decision came after the authorization of Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.
The 610-kilometer railroad project from Chabahar to Zahedan got off the ground in the fiscal 2010-11, only to come to a halt for three years due to lack of resources. The execution of the project resumed in the year ending March 2015, after a change of contractor.
Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami has vowed to inaugurate the project by March 2022.
After connecting Chabahar to Zahedan, the railroad will be linked to Zaranj in Afghanistan. Hence, when the Afghan cargo arrives in Zahedan, it can be transported by a 1,380-km railroad to Chabahar and then shipped to India.