22 Jan 2018 – 1:56

Traffic at ports doubles post siege

By Sachin Kumar / The Peninsula

DOHA: Ports in Qatar have witnessed steep rise in the number of ships coming to Qatari waters since illegal blockade. The number of vessels coming to ports every month after siege has almost doubled, showing the strength Qatar’s growing maritime trade.

As many as 417 vessels were handled by Hamad Port, Ruwais Port and Doha Port in December, which was 97 percent higher than vessels handled by these ports in June 2017 when the siege was imposed on Qatar.

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According to Mwani Qatar, these ports had handled 212 ships in June.  The same trend was seen in other months. In November last year, the total number of ships handled by the three ports was 411, which was 94 percent higher than the ships arrived in the ports in June.

Similarly, the ports handled 458 ships in October and September each, which showed 116 percent increase compared to June. In August, the increase was 110 percent as 446 ships anchored in Hamad Port, Ruwais Port and Doha Port. In July, total 371, ships were handled by the ports.  The surge in maritime activity confirmed that siege had completely no impact on Qatar. The increased number of ships ensured that supply of goods ranging from edible items to materials for infrastructure projects remained uninterrupted.

In terms of total traffic, 2017 was a record breaking year for Mwani Qatar with regard to meeting challenges, expanding global marine connectivity and enhancing its repertoire as a growing maritime player in the region. In 2017, these ports handled 1.26 million tonnes of general cargo, 772,835 TEUs containers, 857,429 cattle heads and 578,654 tonnes of aggregates and 3,869 vessels.

One of the main factors for this strong traffic was proactive steps taken by concerned authorities. After the unjust siege was imposed, the concerned authorities swung into action and took several initiatives including introduction of new services between Qatar and various international ports.

Last week, Hamad Port announced addition of a new service from South Korean shipping line Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM) to its growing network list. Before that, many other new shipping lines started services from Hamad Port. With a capacity of 13,154 TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units) and a draft of 14 meter ‘Hyundai Drive’ was the largest container vessel to enter the Hamad Port.

Mwani Qatar in cooperation with its partners had, in the past few months, inaugurated a number of new direct shipping lines between Hamad port and a number of ports in the region and beyond.