In an industry-first move, Amazon India and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which comes under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to start shipping customer packages through inland waterways.
Under this MoU, Amazon India and IWAI will work together to enable containerised cargo movement and build a network to use inland waterways for cargo shipment, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday (November 22). The ecommerce giant will start exploring inland waterways as a part of its supply chain.
Amazon will soon initiate a pilot run on the Patna to Kolkata waterway – along the National Waterway 1 – with the support of IWAI and its carriers. According to government statistics, there are 111 notified national inland waterways in the country, spanning around 20,275.5 km and carrying nearly 55 Mn tonnes of cargo annually.
Commenting on the development, minister of ports, shipping and waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said, “This MoU with Amazon India marks a significant step towards harnessing the potential of India’s inland water transport. Our focus is on increasing cargo movement through river systems, which is a more sustainable and economical mode of transport. I congratulate Amazon India on their endeavour to collaborate with IWAI to create a waterways transportation solution.”
Incidentally, the move comes nearly a year after the US-based ecommerce giant launched its air cargo network, Amazon Air, in India. Amazon India uses the complete cargo capacity of a Boeing 737-800 aircraft to provide faster deliveries to its customers.
Speaking on the waterways initiative, Abhinav Singh, the VP of operations at Amazon India, said, “This MoU between Amazon India and the IWAI is poised to develop a transformative offering that will open up new possibilities for all ecommerce companies to leverage the country’s extensive inland waterways.”
Singh added that Amazon remains committed to its global mission to transform the future of logistics and seeks to harness the potential of India’s rivers, canals, and other water bodies to enhance logistics and transportation efficiency for the Indian ecommerce industry.
With this, the ecommerce major has a countrywide logistics network in India that spans land, air, and now, inland waterways. Amazon has also been looking to expand its export capacity from India, and according to media reports, the ecommerce major is eyeing exports to the tune of $20 Bn from India by 2025.
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