The government is importing 13 reach-stackers, vehicles used for handling intermodal cargo containers, at ports at a cost of 155 million Br.
The Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise procured the machinery with the primary aim of reducing delays while unloading, stacking and inspecting containers at dry ports.
Each machine, which is supplied by Konecranes lift trucks, a Swedish manufacturer and supplier, has a capacity of lifting up to 45tn of goods.
The port formalities have been completed for the seven stackers at Djibouti and will be expected to arrive at Modjo dry port this week, according to Ashebir Nota, Promotion & Events Organisation Team Leader at the Ethiopian Shipping & Logistics Services Enterprise.
The increase in imported goods and the growing amount of incoming containers from Djibouti by train, twice a day, is a reason for the procurement of the machines, according to the Authority.
The incoming containers have increased by 36pc from 86,160 twenty-feet equivalent unit (TEU) containers in 2015 to 135,000 TEU containers in 2018. The total throughput of containers in 2017 shows a 61pc increase compared to 2014, which is 207,645.
The train has been loading 106 TEU containers on a single trip since August.
Out of the 13 newly-procured reach-stackers, nine of them will be used at Modjo, while the remaining will be distributed to other ports including Kality, Gelan, Semera, Dire Dawa, Kombolcha and Meqelle.
The arrival of the reach-stackers will increase the efficiency of the port by 200pc, according to Dereje Mideksa, director of Modjo Dry Port.
Currently, 15 reach-stackers in Ethiopia are operational at all seven dry ports, of which nine are operating in Modjo.
"However, there was a continuous complaint from importers at Modjo dry port, as four of the machinery have broken down," said Dereje.
Recently, two of them were repaired, and the port operates with seven reach-stackers decreasing the waiting time, according to him.
Selahedin Kelifa, president of Ethiopian Freight Forwarders & Shipping Agents Association, approves the procurement of the reach-stackers, stating their contribution in alleviating delays at the ports.
But he sees the problem of congestion, which occurs due to increasing numbers of incoming containers, as having to be resolved by implementing a common-use facility at the port.
"It opens an opportunity to the private forwarding companies to share the loads and at the same time to increase the efficiency of the dry ports," he said.
The Association has concluded the study and has submitted the document to the Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Authority.
Gole Dura, deputy manager for Erkab Transit & Consultancy SC with more than three decades of experience in the logistics industry, applauds the procurement. But believes that sustainable solutions can improve Modjo Port.
"To accommodate the ever-growing import of products," said Gole, "the port has to be expanded."
Last year, the World Bank Group approved a 200-million-dollar loan for Ethiopia, of which three-fourths are to be used to expand the capacity of Modjo Dry Port, 73Km east of Addis Abeba.
The Ethiopian Shipping Line Services Enterprise is undertaking an expansion project from its current capacity of holding 14,500 containers and handling over 90pc of the country's trade.
"This logistics business requires faster decisions and measures that every second count as demurrage costs those involved in the logistics chain," Gole said. "The port should also have to organise good maintenance facilities for sustainable operation of reach-stackers and lifts."