Of the eight gantries in the capital's port, five are operational. Three of them were decommissioned in 2023 and need to be replaced. These are the three Chinese gantry cranes of the Hanjung brand which, given their number of years of service, had to be put out of operation. However, as there is talk of increasing the port's capacity, these will be replaced by a higher quantity of gantries.

It is planned that the Cargo Handling Corporation Ltd (CHCL), the state company in charge of handling at the port, will purchase four or even five gantry cranes. However, first, the three unused gantries will need to be replaced. CHCL launched an international call for tenders on October 5 to dismantle and remove these port cranes, as well as spare parts.

“These three cranes are past their maximum age and we have not used them since last year. However, a whole procedure is required to remove them. So, we need to find a company specializing in this type of operation to do it. This is why we launched an international call for tenders,” confides Menon Munien, chairman of the CHCL board of directors. He adds: “When we have finished with that, we will place an order for four or five gantry cranes in order to improve the capacity of the port and so as not to find ourselves in trouble when there is a breakdown on another gantry”.

It says that a single gantry costs approximately Rs 600 million, excluding other associated costs. It would therefore require at least Rs 2.4 billion for four gantries and Rs 3 billion if the decision is made to acquire six. “Counting from last October, it would take around a year and a half for the entire exercise of awarding the contract for the demolition of the old porticos and installation of the new ones,” Menon Munien understands. The latter explains: “The primary goal is to increase the efficiency and productivity of the port. With the problems we are seeing at the ports in South Africa and the Red Sea, there is the opportunity to increase our transshipment volume. This would allow us to make a serious leap forward.”

Container traffic

Of the five current gantry cranes, three work 24/7, while the other two are used when the volume of ships arriving at the port to leave or load containers requires it. Total container traffic through Port Louis contracted by 11.9%. This increased to 408,145 containers in the 2021/22 financial year, compared to 463,044 containers in 2020/21.

For 2021/22, transhipment container traffic recorded negative growth of 25.3%, while captive container traffic increased by approximately 1.8%. The port recorded a 1.9% decline in total ship calls, from 2,628 ships in 2020/21 to 2,578 in 2021/22, mainly due to the significant fall in ship calls from containers and local fishing. This figure, however, would have been revised upwards in 2022/23 thanks to the recovery of the local economy, which led to more imports and exports. Note that approximately 99.5% of our exports pass through the port. The latter contributes approximately 2% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

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