Hamad Port set to handle rising global cargo
Hamad Port, which has seen the world’s largest shipping companies seek entry and growth in the Qatari and regional markets, is all set to handle increasing volumes of global cargo, according to a top official of QTerminals, the operator of the first phase of the port.
“We have a robust growth strategy in place to ensure that we continue to expand our business… There is significant room for growth and innovation,” Neville Bissett, the newly appointed chief executive of QTerminals told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
More than 16% of the world’s container traffic flows between Europe and Asia, allowing the Gulf Co-operation Council ports to capitalise on the thriving global shipping business, a study by A T Kearney said, adding demand for international trade coupled with the existing global ports network is another factor in the Gulf’s marine transport boom
Highlighting that many main line operators have evinced interest in starting direct services to Hamad Port, while others have already started or are expanding their existing routes; he said the new routes include additional services from China, the Far East and Bangladesh as well as enhancement of services from established routes including India, Pakistan, Oman, and the Mediterranean.
The sectors that are currently contributing most to volume are machinery, technical and construction material, large electrical goods, vehicles, and electronic equipment, he said, adding Qatar’s major trade partners include China, India, the US, Europe and Japan.
Since its opening, Hamad Port has attracted significant interest from main line operators and the world’s largest shipping companies, which are seeking to enter and grow in the Qatari and regional markets, Bissett said
The transition from Doha Port to Hamad Port has led to an increase in containerised and general cargo trade into and through Qatar due to the expanded facilities, higher productivity, and efficient use of capacity in the port, he said.
As per the available data, the port harboured 150 vessels in September this year against 104 the year-ago period while net tonnage at the port expanded to 143,750 tonnes in September compared to 65,470 tonnes in the comparable period of 2016.
The Hamad Port’s predecessor Doha Port was used as a feeder port, handling cargo generally for local consumption, while the new port is seen as a hub, which means that it now handles both local and regional cargo. “Going forward, (it) will handle increasing volumes of international cargo,” Bissett said.
Asked how soon the port can achieve the optimum utilisation amidst the economic blockade; he said shortly after the crisis started, QTerminals, together with Qatar’s supply chain, logistics, and transportation stakeholders made immediate operational and process changes, and quickly adapted to the new situation in order to ensure that Qatar was impacted as little as possible.
QTerminals’ current operations in Hamad Port include a container terminal with a capacity of 2mn TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) and general cargo, roll-on roll-off and livestock terminals with a capacity of 1.7mn tonnes and 500,000 vehicles annually.