SA citrus boost for Maputo port
Sharon Hammond19 October 2004
More South African citrus has been moving through the Mozambican port of Maputo, prompting the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC) to revamp the harbour's fruit terminal.
"Three large reefer vessels can now berth in the harbour at the same time", says port spokesperson Sonia Mota. "For the first time in 20 years, we can simultaneously load citrus onto two ships."
MPDC commercial director Dick Moore said direct road and rail access to the Maputo fruit terminal had been completely renewed and wharves upgraded, enabling faster and more efficient loading of ships with less damage to pallets.
South Africa's largest citrus-growing areas lie within 450km of Maputo, making the port closer than those in Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town.
The MPDC was awarded the concession to run the Indian Ocean gateway 18 months ago, and immediately sought investment from South Africa's Fresh Produce Terminals (FPT).
FPT, part of South Africa's largest fruit exporter, Capespan, holds a long-term lease at the Maputo fruit terminal.
"When the final tally is in for this year's South African citrus trade, we expect it to total approximately 90 000 pallets", says FPT terminal director Paulo Franco.
"That's a significant increase and marks an important turn-around which has been achieved by an initiative involving the close co-operation of our company, the MPDC and the vital support of the region's growers", Franco said.
MPDC chief executive Alec Don said the 2004 citrus season has been key to "getting Maputo back on the road to re-establishing its natural role as a significant export gateway for South African fruit."
The MPDC and FPT are currently studying the feasibility of phase two of the re-development strategy, which involves extensive modernisation and enlargement of the fruit terminal.
The terminal's outdated quayside cranes have already been scrapped in favour of the faster, more efficient use of ships' cranes.
The resurfacing of 300 metres of quayside apron has also allowed a new fleet of forklift trucks to work faster and more safely.
The terminal's cooling system has also been upgraded, as has the port's security systems for all cargo facilities.