Kuwait's ports continue to break records

Sea freight gateway to Iraq sees container throughput jump 20% in the first quarter.

Kuwait's container terminals continue to make strides, reporting exceptional full year 2006 statistics, according to the Kuwait Port Authority (KPA).

There has been year on-year-growth since 1995 with a marked increase each year since the year 2000, when 307,795 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units, or standard shipping containers) were handled. Last year, the combined cargo through the terminals at Shuwaikh and Shuaiba reached 753,334 TEU.

The Sharjah-based port management company Gulftainer, which also operates Khorfakkan container terminal in the UAE, have a team working in Kuwait with KPA to improve container handling facilities in the country.

"Improvements in efficiency and operational performance enabled the combined terminals to handle record breaking throughputs in 2006," explains Ted Malone, manager, Gulftainer Kuwait in reference to KPA's achievement.

This year has also seen improved throughput for Kuwait's ports, with early indications suggesting an overall higher growth rate. The first quarter figures are 15% higher in terms of container moves, and 19% higher in TEUs than the same period in 2006. The Kuwaiti economy is rapidly expanding, with the ports in particular benefiting from their strategic location as cargo gateways into Iraq.

Plans initiated by KPA have already been made for expanding the container handling capabilities to cater for future cargo increases. "New gantry cranes and yard equipment, redevelopment of stacking areas, and installation of enhanced computer systems are all in the pipeline, in addition to the deepening and widening of the approach channel to allow larger ships to use the terminals," explains Malone.

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