The Chief Executive Officer of Meridian Port Services (MPS) Ltd. Mohamed Samara, has confirmed that beginning January 2024, the Port of Tema will become the first port of call in West Africa under a Maersk-CMA-CGM West Africa Express (WAX) service on the Far East-West Africa maritime trade route.
This adds up to an existing direct call by the world’s leading shipping line, Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) at the Port.
According to the MPS CEO, who was speaking on the niche Eye on Port TV program, these milestones reflect the faith these shipping majors have in the world class Terminal 3 in Tema, Ghana.
Mr. Samara intimidated that this move will shorten the time it takes for transhipped goods to reach Ghana as well as transit time for landlocked countries using Ghana’s ports.
“Basically, what this means is that the ship leaves TPT in Malaysia, and lands in Tema 21 days which is the shortest transit time for port in Africa with the Far East and that is quite an achievement enabled by infrastructure at Terminal 3,” Mo stated.
He disclosed that, this, coupled with the enviable location of Tema have boosted the port’s fortunes in the transhipment segment.
“We have attracted trade between China and some countries that have challenges in taking the big ships. The big ships came to us and then we transhipped the cargo to neighbouring ports.
Trade between China and Brazil for example, some big lines called Tema and the Cross-Atlantic service picks it up and sends to Brazil. Another line was exporting citrus from Cape Town to Europe.
They have a service coming from Europe and another from the Middle East and they all crisscross in Tema. The middle east via Cape Town service picked up the containers into Tema and a day later, the Europe service docked in Tema.
We loaded it with the citrus from Cape Town into Europe. We have created here an intercontinental hub. This model was never done before because of port capabilities and infrastructure,” Mr. Samara indicated.
This new WAX Service, he said will have an exponential effect on Ghana’s transhipment numbers.
He was speaking on the back of the launch of phase 2 of the Tema Port Expansion, where a fleet of 15 state of the art gantry cranes were delivered at the terminal in addition to the commencement of civil works for a 270,000-square-meter area which will expand the terminal’s footprint from 100 hectares to an impressive 127 hectares.
He said the entire yard space is expected to be completed by September 2025 with 50,000 square meters of the yard space expected to be ready by July 2024.
According to Mo, with the successful completion of phase 2 of the port expansion, Terminal 3 will boast of a handling capacity of 3.5 Million TEUs making it “the biggest port in West Africa.”
Notwithstanding the infrastructural muscle of the port, the MPS boss attributed the success of the container terminal to his team, who are committed to the use of technology and customer satisfaction, as well as the enabling environment created by the government and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority.
He stated that at MPS Terminal 3, interactions with stakeholders are 100% digital, a vast increase over the digital penetration rate during MPS’ time at Terminal 2 of the Port.
“The truck turnaround today in our port, from when the truck enters till exit, excluding the customs inspection, on the import cycle is about 40 minutes, and the export cycle is 20 minutes, and to the Inland Container Depots, it is 30 minutes,” Mr. Samara revealed.
“It’s quite an efficient process. Every driver is a preregistered person known to the terminal and every truck that comes is a pre-registered machine known to the terminal and when a customer through a freight forwarder books to pick or drop a box, by approaching the gate at his time slot, with a finger he gains access,” he added.
The man at the helm of affairs at MPS for almost two decades said continuous training of human resource and teamwork are at the core of the company’s values. He pointed out that MPS has adopted the Lean program intended to cut cost and boost employee productivity.
He said the terminal 3 is ready is support the infrastructure needs expected to promote the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.