Ramalingum Maistry is Chairman of the Mauritius Ports Authority. He explains to The Business Report the huge undertaking of building a new terminal facility that will position Mauritius as a regional leader in logistics.
How has the expansion project improved the port’s operations?
Recently, a Rs 6.5 billion (almost US$ 200 million) project saw the extension of the port’s quay by 240 metres, expansion of the container stacking area by 7.5 hectares as well as the strengthening of the existing 560 metres quay. This increased the throughput capacity of the terminal from 550,000 TEUs to about 1 million TEUs. In addition, the navigation channel was dredged to 16.5 metres thus making Port Louis Harbour one of the deepest ports in sub-Saharan Africa.
Why was this project undertaken to begin with?
The growing interest by shipping lines to increase trans-shipment traffic at Port Louis may result in a capacity shortfall at the Mauritius Container Terminal by 2020, We are therefore determined to build additional container handling capacity to meet the increasing demands of the global shipping lines and cater for the anticipated increase in container volume.
Can you explain more about the 2019 Island Terminal project?
In this regard the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA) is currently undertaking a feasibility study of the planned development of an Island Terminal that will be completed by April 2019. The Island Terminal is a testimony to the MPA’s commitment to transform Port Louis into a vibrant port-centric logistics cluster and the recent upgrades at the Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT), that were completed just over a year ago, have greatly improved vessel and container handling capacity.
How will this facility improve Mauritius’ logistical status in the region?
Construction of an island terminal will be the centrepiece of Port Louis’s bid for regional container status. With this facility, Port Louis will be a premier regional hub port with a combined capacity of some 2.5 million TEU together with Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT). According to container traffic forecasts, this major port infrastructure upgrade will ensure the viability of the port well beyond 2030. The cost of the Island Terminal project is estimated at $734 million, out of which the basic infrastructure including breakwater, dredging and land reclamation works will cost around $282 million.
How will you fund the project?
The planned implementation of the project will be undertaken either as a PPP or BOT scheme. With this mode of procurement, the successful bidder will have an obligation to bring in more cargo volumes to sustain the viability of the project. It is therefore an imperative for major shipping lines to participate in the proposed consortium that will fund, implement and operate the Island Terminal. With a planned completion date of 2025, MPA proposes to invite proposals before the end of 2019.