18 April 2014

Mozambique: New Tugs Inaugurated at Maputo Port

Maputo — The Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) on Thursday inaugurated two new tugs, each of 1,750 horsepower.

MPDC is the consortium which has a lease to operate the port up until 2033. It is a consortium between the publicly owned port and rail company, CFM (with 49 per cent of the shares), and its private sector partner Portus Indico, with 51 per cent. Portus Indico is formed by DP World of Dubai, Grindrod of South Africa, and the local firm Mocambique Gestores.

According to the MPDC Chief Executive Office, Osorio Lucas, the two tugs, the “Sereia” and the “Bulani”, were specifically designed for the needs of Maputo port, and between them cost around 15 million US dollars.

They are operated by P & O Maritime, which in 2012 won the contract to provide MPDC with marine services including pilotage, mooring services and the crewing and maintenance of tugs, pilot boats and mooring craft. Lucas told reporters this was an example of the MPDC policy of outsourcing services which it does not regard as forming part of its core operations.

The new tugs are part of the port master plan under which total investments of 1.8 billion dollars are to be made in order to raise the port's handling capacity to 50 million tonnes a year by 2033.

Maputo port has steadily increased the amount of cargo handled over the past decade. According to MPDC, the figure rose from five million tonnes in 2003 to 15 million tonnes in 2012 and to 17 million tonnes in 2013. This is a growth of 260 per cent.

In that period, MPDC undertook investments of 362 million dollars. Perhaps the most significant improvement was dredging the access channel, deepening it from nine to 11 metres. This increased the maximum size of ships that could dock at the port to rise from 40,000 to 60,000 deadweight tonnes.

Quays and warehouses were rehabilitated and new port equipment acquired. Nonetheless, several of the quays are out of operation, putting a physical limit on how much cargo the port can handle.

The MPDC master plan includes spending 107 million dollars on upgrading these berths, which amount to 770 metres of quay.

The access channel will be deepened again, to 14 metres, at a cost of 50 million dollars, allowing ships of up to 82,000 tonnes to dock.

But the largest investments will be the expansion of the Matola coal terminal (834 million dollars), expansion of the container terminal (300 million), and the construction of a new bulk cargo terminal (110 million).

The focus is shifting from the port's Maputo terminal to the adjacent Matola terminal. Maputo has a current capacity for 12 million tonnes of cargo, and MPDC plans to raise this to 20 million tonnes by 2033. But capacity at Matola is expected to quadruple, from 7.3 to 30 million tonnes, most of which will be coal.

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