Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Cool Chain Shipping And Logistics Centre For Africa Takes Shape

Innovative Handling Process and Modern Technology For Perishables Introduced
Shipping News Feature

KENYA – The recent woes over the ash cloud covering Europe highlighted the vulnerability of African countries dependent on the export of fruit, vegetables, flowers etc. to outside influences. Kenya is a country heavily reliant on their vulnerable produce and the brand new Transglobal Cargo Centre (TCC) at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) which completes its first phase next month is set to make for a faster and more controlled supply chain for shipping such goods.

The final completion of the giant TCC fresh produce and cargo handling facility, including commissioning of its cool-chain multi-storey ETV (elevating transfer vehicle)-based perishables handling system, will enable it to accept export perishables traffic. It will also mark the end of a one and half-year building programme, representing an investment of £11 million to provide a state-of-the-art handling facility with direct airside access. Import and export traffic will commence to be handled through the facility upon completion of the first phase.

Located on JKIA’s newly-extended freight apron, TCC will cater for the airport’s growing cargo business – a substantial element of which is perishables – replacing its reliance upon off-airport cargo handling facilities, and complying with the higher security standards demanded by Nairobi JKIA’s application for FAA category 1 status. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport has the second highest cargo throughput in Africa, at over two hundred and ninety thousand tonnes in 2009 (up 5% on the previous year), and with the airport currently served by almost 40 scheduled airlines the new terminal will have an estimated cargo handling capacity of 250,000 tonnes per annum.

The new facility will include 12,351 sq m of warehousing with 11 truck docks, 10 container workstations, a 3-level ETV system with 160 storage positions, a combined ULD weigh-scale and X-ray scanner, and six additional security scanners. There will be roller bed access to the temperature-controlled ULD build-up area. The perishables handling area will be divided into separate temperature zones (e.g. chilled store, freezer) to cater for the varying needs of different commodities. Shippers, agents and regulatory staff will also have access to a dedicated 1,000 sq m perishables inspection and re-packing area. The Transglobal Cargo Centre will additionally cater for high-value cargo, with separate import- and export strong rooms. All areas will have restricted access controlled by card readers, and the entire facility will benefit from CCTV surveillance and 24 hour guarding.

Transglobal Cargo Centre Ltd has provided handling for airlines in Nairobi since 2007, through its off-airport facility. The company’s Chairman, Peter Muthoka E.B.S.,commented:

“The export of perishables by air is vitally important to the Kenyan economy. It has huge further potential, but only if the industry moves with the times, and invests in facilities that ease the flow of traffic and comply with ever-stricter global security requirements.The new Transglobal Cargo Centre is the product of extensive talks with the airline and forwarder sectors, to establish and satisfy their true handling needs. We are also enjoying tremendous support from the Airport Authority here, which sees our investment as a major assistance in its drive to increase the role of the airport as a trade development tool.

“Transglobal Cargo Centre is certainly a major commitment for my group, but we are confident that this facility will rapidly become the handling operation of choice for those carriers wishing to share in the potential of perishables traffic from Kenya, by providing their customers with a reliable and fully-resourced cool-chain operation.”

Pic: Artists Impression of the new Facility