Friday, July 6, 2012

New Container Port Development on Key Freight Route Attracts Shipping Conglomerates

Confusion Over Previous Reports of Potential Bidders
Shipping News Feature

IVORY COAST – The possibility of being involved in the development of a completely new container port has attracted the interest of many of the world’s leading shipping interests who have been attracted to the new scheme, particularly as the construction site in question is in Abidjan, potentially the ideal springboard for the Côte d'Ivoire's own cocoa exports and a route for freight from a variety of neighbouring countries including Ghana.

Eyebrows were raised this week when the Director General of French box line CMA CGM, Rodolphe Saadé, indicated the group were willing to invest up to a quarter of a billion dollars in the plan to construct a second, and much larger, Abidjan terminal, following his meeting with the country’s president and former prime minister Alassane Ouattara. CMA CGM have had well documented financial problems and the company were quick to offer an explanation yesterday explaining the company would only become involved in the project ‘as part of a consortium alongside other partners who would also finance the project’ and affirming that they would ensure the port was ‘completely finished four years from now.’ Rodolphe Saadé said:

"The Ivory Coast is a major market for the CMA CGM Group and its Delmas subsidiary. The delays in making the necessary improvements to the infrastructures over the last ten years will be compensated by an ambitious investment policy. Abidjan could then become a regional hub for container transport. We are ready to accompany this development".

The existing facilities for container handling in Abidjan manage up to 800,000 TEU annually and the proposed development will treble capacity and president Alassane Ouattara is ideally qualified to oversee the financial aspects of the project having experience working with the International Monetary Fund and with a reputation for transparency in business in a region where commercial deals have often been seen as containing an element of corruption.

Reports from the Port of Abidjan indicate that sealed tenders have already been received from around twenty bidders to be opened in two weeks time following the announcement of the details in June and these include proposals from the industry’s two biggest players, Maersk and MSC.