By Taher Zaroog and Tom Westcott.
Misrata/Tripoli, 10 March 2014:
Misrata has celebrated the opening of a new dock in its Free Trade Zone which will boost the number of vessels that can berth at the port.
The new dock’s dimensions – 804 metres in length with a depth of 13 metres – enables the commercial port to now accommodate medium-sized cargo vessels. With the additional dock, up to 19 ships can berth at any one time.
At the opening ceremony, a project establishing a new port and container terminal, some eight kilometres east of the port was announced. The new terminal, which will fall under the Misrata Free Trade Zone, will have berths 20 metres deep that can accommodate some of larger container vessels not currently able to call at any port in Libya.
The proposed terminal could turn Misrata into a Mediterranean hub for containers in transit able to compete with Maltese and Italian ports. An area of 15 hectares has been set aside specifically for this purpose.
The new port will be constructed on an area extending to 3,000 hectares. Shipping sources in Misrata said that more than 50 international companies have already expressed interest in setting up or investing in projects on the new site.
Misrata Free Trade Zone is one of the country’s best-equipped ports for handling containers, boasting the only two gantry cranes in Libya. This has helped it become one of the country’s most successful ports and, in 2013, it reported handling a record number of containers.
Last year 208,339 twenty foot equivalent units (TEUs) were unloaded at the port, compared to 159,634 in 2012.
As the only independent Libyan port authority, Misrata is also not obliged to use the state handling company, the Libyan Ports Company (LPC). Staff at other Libya ports claim that LPC’s monopoly over stevedoring and limited working hours cause long delays in the unloading of vessels.
As part of ongoing improvements to and modernisation of the Misrata Free Trade Zone, yesterday’s ceremony also saw the unveiling of the foundation for the port’s new electronic gateway.
Work on the new dock was carried out by Turkish company TML. [/restrict]