Dubai’s Port Rashid container terminal has begun shifting part of its machinery to Jebel Ali port ahead of the terminal’s closure, said a senior official.
Jamal Mubarak Al Shamsi, Director of Port Rashid Container Terminal, who is co-ordinating the moving process, revealed that some container handling equipment, such as gantry cranes, had already been moved to the newly constructed Terminal 2 of Jebel Ali port. A number of staff had also moved there.
“We have already started the process of moving to the new location at Jebel Ali Port. We are co-ordinating with officials there,” he said.
The Port Rashid container terminal will be closed by June 2008 after all the equipment has been moved to Jebel Ali Port, but Al Shamsi said that it could be closed earlier depending on the speed with which equipment is moved.
He said that the terminal at Port Rashid could not handle the new generation of container ships, with carrying capacities of 6000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) and some big vessels were already docking at the Jebel Ali Port, which has facilities to handle larger vessels. “The Jebel Ali port is currently undergoing major expansion to provide docking facilities for all sizes of vessels and we feel that moving our operations there will be much to our benefit,” said Al Shamsi.
Dubai’s growing traffic problems are also forcing container ships to use rival ports, such as Jebel Ali and ports in Sharjah, since the container terminal at Port Rashid is very close to Dubai’s busy city centre. Moving the container terminal to the Jebel Ali port is expected to help reduce traffic congestion in the city centre caused by container trucks.
“The location of the [Port Rashid] container terminal was proving unpopular among container handlers because of the delays caused by traffic congestion. Moving to Jebel Ali, which is less crowded, is a good idea,” said Mark Geagea, Manager of Al Khaleej Handlers.
Port Rashid, with a draught of 13 metres and quay length of 14,000 metres, was opened in 1972 and its 615,000-square-metre container terminal has been one of the busiest in UAE with a container traffic of 1.45m TEUs in 2006. The Jebel Ali port is expected to boost its throughput from this year’s 11.5m TEUs to more than 14m TEUs next year following the moved. The Jebel Ali port is expecting more than 10 per cent annual growth following the ongoing Dh5.5bn expansion work that involves deepening of the channel to 17 metres, which will enable it to handle new-generation vessels of 13,000-TEU capacity, and increasing the quay length to 1,200 metres. Port authorities expect the container capacity at the Jebel Ali Port to increase to 67m TEUs by 2030.
Port Rashid will remain open for general cargo and Dubai Ports World is yet to decide on what developments will replace the port’s current container terminal once it is closed next year, according to Al Shamsi. However, some sources have said that part of it is being used for the expansion of Dubai Maritime City, being developed close to the location. It is also believed that part of the land might be used to build new cruise terminals to support more cruise ships as Dubai continues to become a hot tourist destination.
Muhammad Za’abi, Deputy Manager for Dubai Cruise Terminal at Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) recently told Emirates Business that DTCM was considering putting up multiple cruise terminals to handle big cruise ships.
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