Aden: heading for the top 100 container portable [Archives:2003/641/Business & Economy]

June 12 2003

By Karen Dabrawska
For the Yemen Times

In 1992 Aden had no container cranes and was handling containers at the Ma'alla Terminal using ships' equipment only. It handled 9,283 TEU that year and was listed at No. 321 in the League Table, out of 382 ports. Port No. 100 in 1992 was Abidjan, which handled 188,728 TEU that year; Aden worked only 5% of this volume. The next year, in 1993 when the first container crane was delivered to Ma'alla, Aden's volume actually fell to 7,968 TEU, putting it at No. 335. It might have seemed that Aden could never hope to enter the list of the top 100 ports.
The situation did not change much until 1997, by which time Ma'alla had two new cranes and had started to pick up business. It handled 13,500 TEU that year and was placed at No. 303, just outside the Top 300 ports. Brisbane was No. 100 this year and needed to handle 316,549 TEU to reach this position because container volume recorded around the world was growing rapidly. Expanding world trade, more break-bulk cargo being 'containerized' as technology improved, more cargo transshipped at hub ports in order to reach its final destination, and ports becoming more creative in generating higher figures so that they could improve their position in this important table, all added to the numbers!
By 1999 the combined volume of the Aden Container Terminal (ACT) and Ma'alla reached 121,675 TEU, putting Aden inside the top 200 ports at No. 196. Aden's throughput since 1992 had averaged 40% per year over this time, compared with around 12% per year for the top 100 ports. No. 100 in 1999 was Zhongshan with 430,000 TEU. Aden was catching up, and its volume had reached 28% of Zhongshan's by this
The year 2000 saw another leap as Aden's volume more than doubled as the ACT gained ground in a highly competitive regional market to reach 247,913 TEU, No. 147 in the World League and 53% of the throughput recorded at the 100th port, Izmir.
What happened in 2001? The Containerization International Yearbook 2002 records the figures for 1999 and 2000 but does not cover 2001, as it takes time to collect and tabulate the data. But projecting forward it is likely that Port No. 100 in 2001 handled 515,000 TEU. In 2001 Aden handled 377,348 TEU, a rise of 52% over 2000 and about 73% of the volume at Port No. 100. This will probably put Aden at No. 124 in the League when the next League Table is published. When will Aden enter the top 100 container port table? Probably not in 2002, because an expected rise in Aden's container volume of around 30% in 2002 over 2001 will generate a throughput of 490,000 TEU and may place Aden at No. 114 in the world league. And by 2003, Port No. 100 may be handling at 620,000 TEU or more, so that Aden would have to grow by another 26% in 2003 to reach this target. However, in common with many of the top container ports around the world, Aden offers international shipping more than one container terminal. The ACT specializes in container transshipment and Ma'alla, situated in the commercial heart of the city, is an ideal place for Aden's import and export container traffic. It is very
likely that growth at both terminals will soon lift Aden's total throughput to put the port inside the Top 100 League, a record that all involved would be proud to achieve.
Prior to the 8 year closure of the Suez Canal in 1967 and before containerization was at all important to cargo handling, Aden was the world's top ship fuelling port and the main regional transshipment center, handling many different types of cargo. The growth in
container volume at Aden is of great importance to the port and has helped to raise the number of large ships calling Aden from less than 900 in 1995 to well over 1,900 last year.
Aden is also becoming an important bulk cargo handling center, with imports of grain, cement and other commodities growing very rapidly and exports of bulk limestone due to commence this week. So it is perhaps not surprising that the International Bulk Journal contacted the Port Authority last month inviting them to supply data for entry into a new publication, to be called the Top 120 Dry Bulk Ports.
This will be a comprehensive listing of the world's top 120 dry bulk ports, ranked in terms of cargo throughput volume and commodity, to be published in July.
It is interesting to reflect that Aden's container volume in 2002 will be over 50 times greater than in 1992. If Aden had handled 490,000 TEU in 1992, this would have put the port inside the top 50 in the world. But such has been the speed of development of
container services that Port No. 50 in 2002 will probably be handling 1.3 million TEU.
The competition between ports around the world is tough, especially in the Middle East, but this helps world trade and those who gain from the lower freight rates. Eventually it brings better prices in the shops.
So these numbers are not just about positions in a table, because the end result is the impact they have on the quality of life that we can all hope to enjoy.