THE Tema Port Expansion Project is to increase the capacity of the port to three times its current size in order to out-compete its biggest rival, the Lome Port (Togo), and become a transshipment hub among ports in the West African sub-region.
Consequently, the new seaport is expected to be clothed with four deepwater berths, a new breakwater and an access channel able to accommodate mega-ships, when it become operational by the end of June this year.
The General Manager in-charge of Marketing and Corporate Affairs of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Mrs Esther Gyebi-Donkor, disclosed this when the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr Kitack Lim, paid a working visit to the port authority in Tema, during his three-day state visit to Ghana.
The Tema Port in its current state, she explained, did not get a lot of transshipment because it had draught and space constraint to consolidate the growing transshipment business in the sub-region.
“The port has not been doing well with regards to transshipment because we do not have big capacity but now that the country is going to have a bigger port, that business will be our main focus to try and to attract transshipment into our port,” she said.
Tema is the largest port in Ghana and handles the bulk of seaborne trade. The port is multipurpose and has a container throughput of 950 000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per annum and handles around 12.2 million tonnes of break-bulk and bulk annually.
Construction work on the US$1.5 billion Tema Port Expansion Project started in October 2016 for completion of the first phase in the second quarter of 2019. The project will increase the capacity of the port to three times its current size.
The expansion project constructed by Meridian Ports Services (MPS) Limited is expected to provide 3.5 million TEUs in annual throughput capacity to the port.
When the GRAPHIC BUSINESS visited the site in March this year about 80 per cent of the work had already been done on the initial phase of the project.
The first part has 350 metres of key walls built with six hectors of container yard.
The port has inaugurated 12 megawatts power station while 350 metres of breakwater has been built.
Construction partner, the China Harbour Engineering Company, has also built 700 metres of sea wall with four million metric dredged harbour basins.
Seven seashore cranes, 89 metres high expected to pick and stack containers from super Panama vessels about 23 rows deep containers have also been completed.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MPS, Mr Mohamed Samara, stated that when the new port was completed, the Tema Port would be the biggest in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
"This project is huge and it will double the capacity of the port, it means more jobs, less cost and more efficiency. Initially, €300 was charged per ship in the anchoring due to congestion and that resulted in ships leaving for neighbouring countries.
“Currently, with berthing window arrangement more ships are arriving daily and even on weekends and this has reduced sea freight to a thousand dollars per ship, multiply that by five hundred thousand ships that come into the country, that is about US$5 million for the Ghanaian economy," he said.
So far, he indicated that the project had reached its major milestone with the first part of the first phase expected to go live on June 28 this year after which the second part would be operational by March 2020.
"By June this year, we will be more than halfway through in terms of overall work done. In terms of functionality and deliverables, we are about 76 to 80 per cent complete. Again, we will deliver seven more cranes and they should be functional by June 8 this year,” Mr Samara added.
Just like Tema, Lomé is the principal port of Togo, handling around 80 per cent of the country’s international trade. Due to its capacity, the port has become a transshipment hub for most shipping lines.
According to the port authority, global traffic through the port in 2015 amounted to 15 million tonnes; this included container handling of 905 700 TEUs and 2.6 million tonnes of transit traffic for Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
Major import products by volume into Togo include petroleum, cement, coal, bitumen and rice. Major exports are phosphates (over one million tonnes in 2015), cement (800 000 tonnes), petroleum oils and oil seeds.
The Togo Transport Corridor centres on the construction of a new heavy-haul railway line in combination with upgrades of road and telecommunication infrastructure systems that extend from Lomé Port to the northern border post of Cinkassé, covering a distance of about 760 kilometres.
This is a focused intervention supporting the growth of the Togolese economy, cross-border trade and the growth of the economies of the hinterland through its development of strategic infrastructure and investment in large-scale anchor projects.
From a port’s perspective, this will involve expanding and improving capacity for Lomé Port and a new port at Kpémé through the development of a bulk mineral storage facility.