Friday, 18 October 2019 | 07:55
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Maputo port nears 20million tonne mark

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 | 20:00

Detailed information about cargo throughput handled at the ports of Africa is often difficult to obtain with many port authorities reluctant to share this information while others don’t appear to place any importance on having up-to-date data available.

Things are changing, however, partially as a result of the involvement of private enterprise in the running of ports on the continent. Such is the case with our neighbouring port of Maputo where cargo throughput has grown as a result of initiatives introduced by privately owned companies holding concessions over all sections of the port.

Maputo, then known as Lourenço Marques, was once a strong rival to Durban in terms of trade with the then Transvaal (Gauteng) and much development at Durban had to take place in order to compete.

Recently those running the port of Maputo revealed that it handled 19.34 million tonnes of cargo last year, an increase on the 18.2 million tonnes achieved in 2017. Interestingly, Maputo is targeting 26.5mt for this year and appears confident of achieving this.

Part of the reason for this confidence is a result of improvements completed recently at the port, which include a dredging programme in which Transnet National Ports Authority dredgers took part. The port is proceeding with the rehabilitation of berths six to nine that will result in a depth alongside of -15m to enable the use of bigger ships. This is expected to impact on containers and bulk commodity products.

In the past week, a ship that called at Durban to take bunkers was seen carrying two new mobile cranes destined for the port of Maputo. These will further improve the ability of the port terminals to achieve ambitious targets.

The port of Maputo is a privately concessioned port, with the state-owned company, Portos e Caminhos de Ferro de Moçambique (CFM) all but a silent participant in its development.

The main private stakeholders in the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) are South Africa’s Grindrod Group and the UAE’s DP World together with a local concern known as Mozambique Gestores. These form a holding company Portus Indico which partners with CFM and holds concessions giving MPDC occupation and operation of the port until 2033, plus an option for a further 10 years.

Among other “partners” in the success of Port Maputo are Transnet Freight Rail which is overseeing improvements to the rail system and Trac – the latter a road corridor developer responsible for the upkeep of the N4 national road between Gauteng and Maputo.

Trac holds a 30-year concession with the South African and Mozambican national road agencies (Sanral and ANE) to develop, manage and maintain the N4 road corridor from Gauteng to Maputo. This was purposed for the stimulation and facilitation of trade and investment in the three economical regions of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Mozambique.

MPDC acts as a port authority in a similar fashion to South Africa’s Transnet National Ports Authority and is responsible for all maritime operations including the marine side (tugs, piloting and so on), stevedoring, terminal and warehousing operations.

But every coin has a flip side and in news received last Friday, the Maputo Corridor Logistics Initiative (MCLI) announced it is closing its doors. Over the years, the MCLI has taken a leading role in marketing the port especially among farmers, mining concerns and general importers and exporters in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, with considerable success. It remains to be seen whether MCLI’s departure will have an effect on targets set for the year.

The MCLI said the decision to close came after several years of “unrelenting pressure” and a thorough examination of the options available.

“The board has stated emphatically that the closure in no way whatsoever reflects on the work of the organisation, but is the result of some very difficult decisions around the texture of the economic landscape and the sad reality that neither the Port of Maputo, nor Trac for that matter, have fully appreciated the value of MCLI.

“Much effort, by many, has been put into attempting to address and resolve these differences, but to no avail. The closure of MCLI is the sad but inevitable outcome.”
Source: The Mercury

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