By George Joseph
It more than doubles container throughput at Aden terminal since taking over in ’03
A PRIVATELY owned Singapore-based port management company that decided to go down the road less travelled in its ventures is making some noteworthy gains managing the fledgling Aden container terminal and as project managers of Iran’s container gateway at Bandar Abbas port.
Overseas Port Management (OPM), headed and owned by ex-veteran PSA Corp executives, has more than doubled the container throughput at the Aden Container Terminal (ACT) since it took over as managers and operators of the terminal in 2003.
Yesterday, they announced the maiden call at the Yemeni port of the container vessel Wan Hai 503 earlier this month, confirming the Taiwanese line’s commitment to the Aden terminal and becoming the fifth mainline operator brought in by OPM.
The vessel forms part of the Pacific International Lines (PIL) and Wan Hai joint Far East-Europe Service.
Eight container vessels, four each from Wan Hai Lines and PIL, are deployed on the weekly line-haul service which calls at Rotterdam, Hamburg, Antwerp, Aden, Port Kelang, Singapore, Shanghai, Ningbo, Hong Kong and Shekou.
‘We have done quite well, raising efficiency and productivity at the Aden terminal since we took over the management operations,’ an OPM spokesman told BT yesterday.
Wan Hai Line’s new presence also reflects international shipping community’s growing confidence in ACT as a competitive container hub in the Red Sea and Middle East-East African region,’ said OPM chief executive officer M M J Subramaniam.
Mr Subramaniam was a senior executive in PSA’s international division, involved in developing ventures like Aden for PSA before his retirement.
The privatised and new ACT started off with Singapore’s PSA as its major stakeholder.
But in October 2003, 12 months after business collapsed in the wake of terrorism-linked security fears and prohibitive insurance premiums, PSA withdrew from the venture.
PSA’s 60 per cent owned terminal operations company Yemen Investment & Development International (Yeminvest) had signed an agreement to end its concessions in the Aden Free Trade Zone, transferring its assets to the government.
PSA was forced to virtually write off its 60 per cent interest in ACT in FY2002 – in the form of a $125 million provision for impairment loss.
The write-off was blamed for significantly contributing to PSA’s 23.5 per cent fall in net profit in 2002, to $559 million.
ACT’s fortunes changed with the terrorist attack on the French oil tanker Limburg in early October 2002, which sent war risk insurance premiums skyrocketing and port activity plummeting.
With shipping lines applying war risk surcharges, some shipping lines were forced to divert their Yemeni calls to other neighbouring ports in Djibouti and Oman, and soon business collapsed at the port.
However, as security conditions improved OPM entered the scene in November 2003, when throughput at the port was 117,000 TEUs for the year.
OPM built this up progressively and managed to attract mainline operators like PIL, Hapag Lloyd, Evergreen, COSCO, APL and K Line. And now with Taiwan’s Wan Hai calling at Aden, OPM celebrates a milestone in its ventures in the tough region.
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