Mozambique: Dredging of Maputo Port Access Channel Under Way

Dredging of the access channel to the Port of Maputo has begun and a million cubic metres of sediment have now been removed, the consortium that manages the port, the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), announced on Wednesday.

An MPDC press release said that the first of three dredges mobilised by the international dredging company Jan de Nul Dredging Middle East FZE arrived in the port on 20 May, and the dredging began the following day.

This suction dredge has been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It was joined last Friday by a larger suction dredge. In mid-July, MPDC says, the largest cutter dredge in the world is due to arrive.

The other equipment mobilized by Jan de Nul includes barges used to transport the material dredged, a bathymetric vessel that tests the depth of the channel, a boat for the crews and a support boat.

The dredging will last ten months and will remove an estimated 12 million cubic metres of sediment from the channel. The purpose is to deepen the channel from its current depth of 11 metres to 14.2 metres at high tide. This, the release says, will allow ships of up to 80,000 tonnes to enter the port, thus making it “more competitive on the regional and international markets”.

The MPDC director of projects, Paulo Mata, cited in the release, said “there is permanent coordination between the dredge and the port operations, so as to ensure that the channel can be used. Maritime operations clearly take priority, and the dredging will not cause any disturbance to the normal course of port operations”.

This is the second dredging of the access channel in recent years. In 2010/2011 the channel was deepened from 9.4 to 11 metres, and MPDC believes this was determinant in increasing the amount of cargo handled by the port from 12 million tonnes in 2011 to more than 19 million tonnes in 2014.

MPDC is a partnership between Mozambique’s publicly owned port and rail company, CFM, with 49 per cent of the shares, and the private consortium Portus Indico, with 51 per cent. Portus Indico is formed by DP World of Dubai, Grindrod of South Africa, and the local company, Mocambique Gestores.

Meanwhile, in the central port of Beira, the dredge “Macuti”, owned by the national dredging company Emodraga, which suffered a serious accident on Monday, has now been moved away from the access channel so that it is no longer hindering shipping.

The dredge collided in fog with a Panama-registered container ship which was leaving Beira. Its hull was damaged, and water poured into the stricken dredge.

According to the Sofala Provincial Director of Transport, Helcio Canda, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, the rescue operation involved a second dredge, the “Alcantara Santos”, and seven specialists in shipwrecks, five of them South African and two Mozambicans.

The leaks were plugged, and water pumped out of the “Macuti”, so that it could be moved out of the channel. Canda said it will now be towed to a safe place for its complete rehabilitation.

The cargo ship involved in the collision is now anchored in Beira port, and the crew are said to be cooperating with the Mozambican authorities in their investigations into the case of the accident.

The “Macuti” is Mozambique’s largest oceanic dredge, with the capacity to store 2,500 cubic metres of sediment. It s only three years old – it was purchased in Holland in 2013, for a price of 28 million euros (about 31 million US dollars).

Dredging of the Beira access channel will now be done by two much smaller barges, the “Alcantara Santos” and the “Arangua”, each of which can store 1,000 cubic metres of sediment in its hold.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique