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From THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, September 17, 2001

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Chennai Container Terminal -- All hands to the deck

Raja Simhan T. E.

A FEW days ago, about 5,000 young people gathered outside an apartment block in Chennai to appear for walk-in interviews conducted by the Avtar Career Creators in a small flat. It was recruiting people for various positions in the Chennai Container Terminal Ltd (CCTL) to be run at the Chennai port by P&O Ports Australia.

For Mrs Saundarya Rajesh, Director, Avtar Career Creators, it was the first major challenge in her HR career. P&O Ports gave her barely 15 days to recruit 256 people. Avtar Career not only completed the recruitment within the stipulated period but also sent the first batch of 78 recruits to Mumbai to undergo training at Nhava Sheva International Container terminal, also run by P&O Ports.

``Our thrust was to identify people with excellent attitude, who can always be trained for specialisation,'' she said, adding, ``modern scientific methods were used to ensure that CCTL got the right type of people, comparable to those working in the ports of Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong.''

The selection of the right kind of people is critical for the quality of service CCTL will provides. The time is short as the terminal is supposed to begin work within 90 days from the date of signing the contract. P&O Ports signed the contract agreement with Chennai Port Trust on August 9, 2001.

The posts that required recruits were for quay crane operator, RTG operator, forklift/reach stacker operators, trailer truck operator, servicemen and checkers. Candidates were called for the positions of shift superintendents, vessel and yard planners, operations shift supervisors, electronics/electrical superintendent, mechanical superintendent, engineering shift supervisors, shift engineers (electrical and mechanical) and store keeper.

The response to the advertisements in newspapers within the country and West Asia was overwhelming. Many of those who responded were overqualified. Some Master Mariners, sailing for over 30 years and desperate to return home, also applied for some of the positions advertised.

In all, there were 5,000 applications. A few hundred were shortlisted and finally 256 selected. The screening of the applications, shortlisting and selection within the limited period was challenging. However, it was equally difficult to communicate with the applicants. ``It was a massive exercise and we had to work round-the-clock to meet the deadline,'' Mrs Rajesh said.

Right now Chennai Port's container terminal employs 500 people, some of whom are expected to join CCTL. They will be given the option of either continuing with the Chennai Port Trust or joining CCTL or opt for VRS. The new recruitment of 256 will be in addition to those of the existing workforce opting for CCTL.

CCTL to develop terminal

CHENNAI Container Terminal Ltd (CCTL) at the Chennai Port is likely to commence operations on November 7. The concession agreement signed between the CCTL and Chennai Port Trust on August 9 allows the company 90 days to implement the project.

CCTL, which will be investing $100 million in five years, would develop, operate and manage the container terminal at Chennai Port for 30 years. The port will draw a royalty roughly 37.128 per cent of the gross revenue.

The throughput at CCTL is expected to be four lakh TEUs in 2001-02 and five lakh TEUs next year.

  Related links:
P&O Ports consortium bags Chennai terminal project
Chennai port in full sail


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