Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited Automates Systems

Gulftainer, one of the world’s largest privately owned port management and logistics company, has further increased efficiency at Sharjah Container Terminal (SCT) through the development of an online application to automate information exchange between the Sharjah Port Authority (SPA), Customs and Gulftainer Company Limited.

The application will enhance existing customs procedures to ensure faster and seamless movement of containers through the port. SCT was the first purpose built and fully equipped modern container terminal in the Middle East, and currently handles cargo on behalf of over 50 shipping lines from around the world.

Peter Richards, Group Managing Director, Gulftainer said, “SCT has been growing at a fast pace and has seen an increase in the volume of cargo it has handled over the last 12 months. The new automated system has been developed keeping this growth in mind and as a result of listening to our customers. It will avoid unnecessary delays and ensure efficient access and clearance of all documentation work. This investment is part of our sustained and clearly defined plan for continued growth to remain competitive and ensure we offer our partners in the port an easy and hassle free experience.”

The new system will allow online verification of SPA issued documents and automation of customs forms, which was previously done manually. It will also enable better document control and provide a direct information access through the Container Management System (CMS).


Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited Welcomes Cma Cgm’s Alexander Von Humboldt

World’s  largest containership makes its maiden call at Khorfakkan Container Terminal.

Sharjah, UAE – June 26, 2013:  Gulftainer, the world’s largest privately owned independent port management and logistics  company, welcomed CMA CGM’s Alexander Von Humboldt containership on its maiden voyage  and call at the Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT).

The Alexander Von  Humboldt, named after the German naturalist, geographer and explorer, is one of  the three explorer class container vessels belonging to CMA CGM, and the second  in a series after CMA CGM Marco Polo. Today, it is also one of the world’s  largest containership at 16,020 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU),  matching its sister ship, Marco Polo, which is a regular visitor to Khorfakkan.  The vessel is 396 meters long (length of four standard football pitches), 54  meters wide, with a draft of 16 meters and has the ability to carry some 16,000  shipping containers.

“In keeping with  the global trade demands, the maritime industry has been expanding at an  exponential rate with increasingly larger containerships,” said Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited,  Group Managing Director of Gulftainer.

At Gulftainer, we ensure  that we stay ahead of the demand and are well equipped to handle these giants  at our terminals. In fact, the Khorfakkan Container Terminal is one of the few  terminals in the Middle East with the facilities to handle mega-containerships  beyond the 16,000 TEU handling capacity.”    KCT reported a 26 per cent increase  in volume in 2012.

Following its UAE stopover,  Alexander Von Humboldt will proceed to Port Klang in Malaysia in early July, and  finally ending its maiden voyage at Ningbo, China by 10 July.

The vessel’s  arrival at KCT was marked with a presentation from Gulftainer’s UAE Terminals  Manager, Paul Hennessy to Master of the Vessel, Captain Slavko Malasic and Tony  De Costa, Regional Operations and Project Cargo of CMA CGM Khorfakkan.

Khorfakkan  Container Terminal is widely considered to be  amongst the most efficient terminals in the world, making it an ideal transshipment hub with connections to Gulf Ports,  Europe, Indian subcontinent and East Africa. Khorfakkan’s location makes it an  obvious choice for shipping lines with large transshipment volumes, which  require easy access to the UAE hinterland.

Gulftainer Company Limited United Arab Emirates And Khorfakkan Feature In Port Strategy Magazine

Namibian dawn

Infrastructure investment is beckoning a new era for Walvis Bay, as Aidan Grange explains.

The Namibian Government is investing heavily and also partnering with the private sector in its port and transport infrastructure upgrade programmes as it attempts to position the country as a competitive regional cargo hub and logistics centre for sub-Saharan Africa.

Critical to this objective is the development of a second container terminal at Walvis Bay, the building of a new railway link with Botswana and expansion of the Walvis Bay logistics corridor, which comprises the Trans-Kalahari, Trans-Caprivi, Trans-Cunene and Trans-Oranje links.

At a ground-breaking ceremony for the new container terminal earlier this year, Namibia’s president Hifikepunye Pohamba said: “The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) is a strategic economic asset for this country and the NA$3bn (US$282m) expansion project is part of a long-term goal to improve our infrastructure and promote intra-regional trade.”

He stressed the significance of the bilateral agreement between Namibia and Botswana for the construction of the 1,500km railway, saying: “This will significantly contribute to and strengthen Namibia’s position in terms of trade.

“In the same vein other landlocked countries will benefit from the railway as it will provide them with a choice of corridors to choose from. At the same time we are upgrading various roads that will also unlock economic benefits to the country.”

Namport hope

But it is the new Namport Container Terminal (NCT), which is being developed on 40ha of land, that is viewed as being one of the most critical elements in the Government’s plan to raise the country’s trading profile.

NCT will add 600m of quay to the port’s existing 1.5km wharfage line raising in its overall container-handling capacity rising to slightly over one million teu a year. Currently, Walvis Bay’s annual design throughput is in the 350,000 to 400,000 teu range.

Funding for the project is in place with the African Development Bank (AfDB) having signed a sovereign guaranteed loan worth NA$2.9bn (US$272m) with Namport late in 2013. The terminal is being built by China Harbor Engineering Company Ltd.

In addition, AfDB has advanced about NA$ US$2.3 million (US$216,000) to the Namibian Government to support and encourage companies to invest in the infrastructure and systems needed to offer port users a wider range of value added freight and logistics services.

Grand ambitions

These activities are viewed as being important if Walvis Bay is to transform itself from a small port handling local and national cargo for a population of a little over two million people into a regional cargo processing centre serving Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and even locations as far east as Guateng province in South Africa. The Southern Africa Development Community is home to at least 330m people.

Bisey Uirab, chief executive of Namport and chairman of the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) – the public-private partnership established to promote the utilisation of Walvis Bay and its inland freight networks – said: “Our logistics hub provides a seamless transport and logistics solution to ensure that these potential consumers get their goods at the right time and in the most cost effective manner.”

He added: “We need to develop ahead of demand so that we can be a few steps in front of our competitors in capturing the region’s emerging business opportunities. We must modernise and transform our modes of transport as well as infrastructure, including IT systems, so that they complement each other to provide a seamless cost-effective service and push for non-tariff barriers in the region to be reduced.

“Our transport community must co-operate and commit to the logistics hub as a matter of priority so that we can make Walvis Bay the Singapore and Dubai of Africa by 2030.”

Walvis Bay’s logistics hub concept is an integral part of the WBCG’s plan to develop Namibia’s largest port as the preferred gateway for southern Africa.

Recently, Botswana Railroads (BR) opened a dry port in Walvis Bay. BR’s commercial manager Mthulusi Lotshe said the new facility, in which NA$60m (US$5.6m) is being invested, would “strengthen multimodal supply chain solutions and create opportunities for new services, while reducing total transport and logistics costs and journey times for the region.”

The executive added: “Our objectives for the dry port are to improve cargo processing through co-ordinated operations, facilitate the collection and distribution of local, regional and international cargo and to better integrate Botswana and the SADC region into Walvis Bay port.”

Zambia connection

In Zambia, the government is focused on improving its transport links, with five main rail line corridors under development, including the construction of a link between Livingstone and Katima-Mulilo which in turn connects to Walvis Bay. Such a line would reduce the cost of moving goods to/from the southern and western regions of Zambia.

But highways are not being ignored, with the Road Development Agency of Zambia planning to build a new road linking the border town [with Namibia] of Sesheke with Mulobezi, Kaoma and the Copperbelt region of the country. This also borders Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga Province.

The new routing will cut travel distances by a third to 800km, resulting in faster transit times and significantly reduced transport costs for cargo moving to/from Walvis Bay. Ultimately, this will raise the Namibian port’s overall competitiveness in this transit corridor and could lead to more importers/exporters selecting this routing option rather than traditional connections via South Africa.

Meanwhile, Namport is also planning to build an entirely new cargo-handling complex to the north of the existing port and located between the existing facilities and the town of Swakopmund. Dubbed the Southern African Gateway Port (SAGP), it will eventually comprise of 10km of berthing line and have the capacity to process up to 100 million tonnes of bulk cargo a year.

A bulk fuel storage and cruise terminal will also be developed within the 1,330ha complex in a project that is expected to cost in excess of NA$30bn (US$2.8bn).

According to Namport’s Mr Uirab, SAGB will be financed with a mix of state funding and private investment and be developed over several phases. To date, the Government has pledged NA$1.5bn for the construction of the oil storage facility which is expected to be completed during 2018.

Future plans

Namibia’s president Mr Pohamba views the new developments will boost the port’s throughput volumes substantially and sees the new container terminal and associated developments as allowing a doubling in volumes by 2017.

This represents a huge challenge. While Walvis Bay has emerged as an effective and alternative trade route for southern Africa, traffic volumes remain modest and a considerable number of beneficial cargo owners and logistics service providers use Durban in South Africa as their gateway into southern Africa. This is particularly the case for cargo moving to/from Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Asia.

Meanwhile, Transnet SOC, South Africa’s state-controlled company which owns/operates most of the nation’s ports, container terminals, freight rail and pipelines networks, is keen to extend its role across Africa with the primary objective being to attract more cargo to its facilities.

Despite the competition, Walvis Bay looks to be on track to become a bigger gateway for southern African landlocked nations.

Taking the coal line

Botswana’s coal mining industry is likely to be among the biggest beneficiaries from the construction of the 1,500km Trans-Kalahari railway linking the landlocked country with Namibia. The link will help to open up the vast reserves of coal – estimated at 212bn tonnes – in the eastern region of Botswana and provide a cost-effective supply chain solution to move that commodity to the port of Walvis Bay.

At a signing ceremony in March 2014 between the governments of Namibia and Botswana for the rail project, Erkki Ngmintina, minister of mines and energy in the Namibian Government, said: “The signing of the Trans-Kalahari Railway agreement provides an added impetus and lays the groundwork for industrialisation. It does not hamper existing gateways, but creates a new path for additional role players.”

Potentially, the port will see a substantial increase in cargo volumes and revenue, thus justifying Namport’s decision to invest in its Southern African Gateway Port project where at least 65m tonnes of coal exports alone are expected to be processed.

In addition to the railroad’s primary purpose of moving coal, opportunities are expected to open up for shippers/consignees of project, general cargo and containers and new intermodal railyards are expected to be developed, thus creating new transport options for Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Tom Alweendo, director-general of Namibia’s National Planning Commission, believes the new rail line will significantly boost trade between Botswana and Namibia, which he said amounted to less than NA$300m a year, excluding diamonds.

He also sees the railway and expansion of the port as assisting the WBCG’s SADC’s regional economic and social integration programmes.

It is hoped that the railway and associated infrastructure, which will cost between US$9bn and US$10bn to build, will become operational in 2019.

Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited Welcomes The New Yang Ming Service

Gulftainer, the world’s largest privately owned port management and logistics company, welcomed the Yang Ming YM Xiamen to Sharjah Container Terminal (SCT) for the first call of a brand new service.

The YM Xiamen arrived for what will be scheduled weekly visits to SCT on the new Gulf feeder Service (TGS). The Gulftainer team were responsible for the movement of 377 TEUs, completed in just over three hours.

To mark the occasion Master, Capt. Huang Tze Show, of the YM Xiamen, was presented with a shield by Gulftainer’s Group Director of Operations, Steve Ogden, and SCT Operations Superintendent, Matt Thompson.

“The arrival of the YM Xiamen in Sharjah will have a significant effect on the Gulf Feeder Service,” said Peter Richards, managing director of Gulftainer. “The team is looking forward to further strengthening the relationship with Yang Ming and this will be a firm fixture at Sharjah for the foreseeable future.”

Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited records golden half-year at Sharjah

Gulftainer Company Limited, the largest privately-owned port operator in the Middle East, has recorded a 14% year-on-year growth in container volumes in the first six months of 2014 at its Sharjah Container Terminal (SCT).

Gulftainer stated that the growth in volume has been influenced by the booming United Arab Emirates – East Africa trade route, as well as new developments in Sharjah.

The strong performance of SCT shows that commerce is growing in the area, as the global economy continues to rise after the inevitable post-recession flatline.

Managing director Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited said: “The positive performance of SCT is led by the improved trade climate, specifically between the UAE and African nations. The port continues to be a popular choice for shipping lines as it offers a flexible and cost-efficient alternative to access the UAE hinterland.”

SCT’s decision to introduce an online application system to automate information exchange between the Sharjah Port Authority, Customs and Gulftainer has been vindicated, as the new feature has made port turnaround time much more efficient for shippers.

Gulftainer currently operates terminals in the UAE, Iraq, Brazil, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.

Ramesh Shivakumaran Gulftainer Company Limited plans ambitious future with Nexthink

Port management and logistics specialist Gulftainer has declared it has opted for Nexthink via its partner Anzemato to realise its plan to hit new growth targets by improving its IT infrastructure.

Gulftainer’s aim is to reach 35 terminals across five continents and handle around 18 million TEUs by 2020.

The ambitious project requires streamlined IT operations, with Nexthink, an end-user IT analytics specialist for security and workplace operations, meeting Gulftainer’s requirements.

The partnership means that Gulftainer will have total visibility of its IT environment, having the capacity to monitor changes on a daily basis to ensure safe and efficient port operations, as well as third-party logistics.

Vinay Sharma, group IT manager at Gulftainer, said of the move: “Real-time analytics from Nexthink brought significant benefits to Gulftainer and facilitated us to establish a more proactive IT support system that we did not have before.”

“We are able to implement compliance standards, IT governance, application standardisation, application use and real-time visibility of our IT infrastructure. Nexthink allows us to strengthen internal security, identify problems quickly and help support teams to provide faster response, lower-cost support while improving end-user satisfaction,” Sharma added.

IMPACT ON ECONOMY – Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited

In many instances the arrival of Gulftainer Company Limited has not only radically changed the fortunes of an ailing port, it has also transformed the regional economy. A prime example is the port of Moroni, capital of the Comoros Islands where prior to Gulftainer taking up the concession, ships were taking four weeks or more to discharge their cargoes.

“We utilised a crane and barge operation along with the limited berth space enabling us to drastically reduce the time the vessels had to spend there,” says Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited. “Within eight or nine months we were able to reduce the price of cement, sugar and even rice for the islanders because we were able to cut the cost of bringing those goods in,” he notes, proudly.

It was a similar story at the Brazilian port of Recife, existing in the shadows of the modern port of Suape 70 km away, though Richards points out that Gulftainer’s logisitics arm Momentum, set up in 2008, provided further impetus to the project.

“By offering a package we can detract from the fact Recife is a smaller port. By bringing in Momentum’s expertise we can say ‘call at out port and we’ll arrange customs clearance, the actual processing and delivery to the end user, all done by us.”

Momentum was set up in 2008, shortly before, in Richards’ words, “the logistics world fell apart” in 2009.

“It has been nowhere near as rocket-fuelled as we had hoped,” he admits, “but we have learnt some valuable lessons because we really had to fight to get business in the hugely competitive logistics environment in the Middle East. Momentum has got itself involved — through our port operations — in Iraq, Brazil, Turkey and Pakistan and now because of that international presence we are starting to see bigger jobs coming our way.

A major part of Momentum’s business has been supply to Iraq — both from Gulftainer’s port and logistics city in the southern part of the country but also from the North, via Turkey. Richards is particularly proud that Momentum was selected as one of very few logistics companies authorised to supply goods in Afghanistan via Pakistan.

“Momentum Pakistan was selected after only being in existence for six months,” he notes. “It took a lot of hard work to get such a tight set of requirements set by the authorities to qualify for the short list of recommended companies, and it showed me that with the right push Momentum can really achieve.”

Momentum will also play a big role in Gulftainer’s latest port concession in Tripoli, Lebanon, which could have a huge role to play in the overland transport of goods and materials needed throughout the Middle East. It will also create up to 1,000 much-needed local jobs, in keeping with its mantra to ensure that up to 98 per cent of its workforce is local, wherever possible.

Gulftainer’s strong reputation in the UAE has led port authorities across the world to grant it concessions for operating their facilities