A month after formally taking over operations of part of Iran's Shahid Beheshti Port in Chabahar, Indian Ports Global Limited has opened a shipping line between the Iranian port and three ports in Mumbai, Kandla and Mundra.
Behrouz Aghaei, the director general of Sistan and Baluchistan's Ports and Maritime Organisation, announced that the first cargo ship from India, which arrived at the Shahid Beheshti dock of Chabahar Port on January 27 at 10.30 am (Indian Standard Time), was destined for Bandar Abbas.
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"Husne Mubarak Azizi, head of foreign affairs and Ministry of Transport of Afghanistan stated that Afghanistan is preparing to ship the first cargo of five containers through Chabahar to India, which will take place within a month or less. The cargo is mung beans and each container will weigh about 22 tons. The delivery of this 5 container cargo will be carried out under the international customs transit system (TIR) system," a release by the Iranian government reads.
TIR streamlines procedures at borders, reducing the administrative burden for customs authorities and for transport and logistics companies. It cuts border waiting times significantly, saving time and money. Each TIR transport is entirely monitored online, so goods can be traced and secured while in transit.
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Indian Ports Global Limited, an Indian state undertaking, took over the operations of parts of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran during the Chabahar Trilateral Agreement meeting held on the 24 December 2018. The heads of the Indian, Iranian and Afghanistan delegations jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian SPV — India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ), at Chabahar. The physical take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and office building was completed by 29 December 2018.
Chabahar is India's gateway to Eurasia and key to the development of landlocked Afghanistan. While India was amply clear on its intention of using the port as part of its wider Indo-Pacific connectivity project, kick-starting operations on the face of the threat of US sanctions was a tricky matter.
However, India received a waiver from the US after the Narendra Modi government dug its heels and announced it would continue to be active in Chabahar even in the absence of a waiver.