Maputo — The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), which holds the lease on the port of Maputo, expects total cargo handled by the port this year to reach 15 million tonnes, thus surpassing the target figure of 14 million tonnes by around seven per cent.
According to MPDC General Manager Osorio Lucas, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the amount of cargo the port handled four years ago, in 2008, was just seven million tonnes.
Lucas stressed, in particular, the growth of the Matola coal terminal, which is expected to handle six million tonnes of coal by the end of this year.
This growth, Lucas said, was largely due to campaigns promoting the port among clients in South Africa, the market which provides 80 per cent of the port’s cargo.
“We succeeded in altering the understanding that the clients had of Maputo port”, he said. “There was a feeling that the port infrastructures were defective, but we managed to prove the opposite and, as a result, in the second half of this year we have handled nine million tonnes”.
Lucas warned that one of the main challenges was ensuring the efficient functioning of the railway between Maputo and South Africa, in order to persuade clients to send their cargo to Maputo by rail rather than by road.
“On average, Maputo port receives 900 trucks a day”, he said. “We have to ensure a switch from road to rail, since the railway has much greater capacity”.
Lucas said that MPDC has signed agreements with the Mozambican, South African and Swazi rail companies (CFM, Transnet and Swazi Railways) in order to create a single centre to handle rail operations. MPDC hopes that improvements to the railway will take at least 200 trucks off the road.
MPDC’s plans for growth are that the port should more than double the amount of cargo it handles in the next five years, and that by 2020 it should be moving around 40 million tonnes.
Most of this will be South African coal. By 2020, the coal terminal should be handling around 30 million tonnes. But MPDC warns this is only possible if most of the freight goes by rail. It hopes to see the rail system handling at least 36 million tonnes by 2016.
MPDC is a partnership between DP World of Dubai, Grindrod of South Africa and CFM. Its lease on the port runs until 2033, with an option for an additional ten years of operations