Having hit rough weather, barge operators are moving to sell or scrap their vessels, with as many as 10 barges already disposed off and around five slated for scrapping in the weeks to come.
“These figures are going to increase as everybody wants to sell off their barges or scrap them,” Atul Jadav, President of the All Goa Barge Owners Association says. During the last three months, the Captain of Ports department has been duly completing formalities of sale transactions that have come in the wake of suspension of mining in Goa.
Captain James Braganza said that procedures are also on for scrapping of barges pointing out that as many as five to six such applications were received by the department.
Jadav explained that many of the barge operators sought to move out of Goa hoping for business at the ports of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
“When this did not materialise, the pressure to clear loans and increasing delay in the resumption of mining in Goa seems to have left the operators with no other options but to dispose off their vessels,” said Jadav.
It was pointed out that most of the sale transactions have been distress sales with barges which were bought for Rs 5.5 crore to Rs 6 crore sold for Rs 2 crore and in many cases as low as Rs 1.75 crore.
Scrapping of barges does not fetch them more than Rs 1 crore. However, while many are opting to scrap their vessels, the procedure is longer as the vessels need to be de-registered first. It was further disclosed that most of the buyers are from Gujarat and Bombay and are converting the barges into tankers.
Jadav said that the association feels it is advisable that barge operators sell off their vessels as business would not be the same even if mining resumed eventually.
He said that it looked highly impossible that the fleet of close to 320 barges would get 123 trips which is required to sustain barge operations.
“This would only result in the inability to pay loans and subsequent attachments of vessels by the bank,” the AGBOA chief said, elaborating that banks have already started taking action against barge owners for non-payment of interests and instalments.
It was disclosed that barge owners have also stopped looking for business outside Goa, as it was pointless and preferred to just dispose off their barges at best rate they get. [H]