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Huge increase in cargo handled by DP World’s Maputo Port

By Wam

The amount of cargo handled by the port of Maputo rose from 14.9 million tonnes in 2016 to 18.2 million tonnes in 2017, an increase of 22 percent, the Mozambican news agency, AIM, has reported. It was citing a press release issued by the consortium operating the port, the Maputo Port Development Company, MPDC.

MPDC is a partnership between DP World of Dubai, Mozambique’s publicly-owned ports and rail company CFM, Grindrod of South Africa, and the private company Mozambique Gestores.

The MPDC press release said that the increase was influenced by the dredging of the port access channel, which was completed in January 2017, increasing its depth from 11 to 14.2 metres. Until the channel was dredged, the largest size ship that could enter the port was about 55,000 tonnes.

The dredging increased the cargo capacity in Maputo by 40 per cent, and the capacity of the Matola end of the port by 55 percent, according to MPDC managing director Osorio Lucas. The largest ship that used the port in 2017 was the bulk carrier 'MV Amani, carrying 96,400 tonnes of magnetite.

The number of ships which used the port declined from 955 in 2016 to 896 in 2017 – but those ships carried an additional 3.3 million tonnes of cargo.

The Matola Coal Terminal began to rehabilitate its quay in July 2017, increasing its depth to 15.4 metres. It can now receive ships up to 275 metres long, with 14.5 metres draught at low tide and 15.5 metres at high tide.

The average amount of coal loaded on a ship at the terminal is now 85,000 tonnes. The rehabilitation of the quay, plus improvements in the railway from South Africa to the port, allowed the terminal to handle a record 5.3 million tonnes of coal in 2017.

In 2017, the container terminal began expanding its capacity from 150,000 to 250,000 TEUs, twenty foot equivalent units. This expansion should be complete in the first half of this year. The second phase of expansion, depending on market demand, could see an increase in capacity to 450,000 TEUs.

This year, MPDC plans to rehabilitate four obsolete quays, with a total length of 1,058 metres. "This is a major project that marks the last of the great steps laid down in the Maputo Port Master Plan", said Lucas, "The rehabilitation will not only create quays with depths of up to 15 metres, but will improve the rate of occupation of the berths, by creating a greater mooring area".

MPDC is also building a terminal to receive cruise ships, which should be concluded by March. According to the release, this new terminal will make it possible to receive passengers from the cruise ships "with greater dignity".

The government leased the port to MPDC in 2003, and in 2010 the lease was extended for an additional 15 years, so that it will not run out until 2033.