Shekou terminals to boost efficiency
By RENEE LAI
THE new Shekou Container Terminals (SCT) management is working to improve the efficiency of the terminal and expects a moderate increase in throughput this year.
''We are confident that we can increase the throughput of last year,'' said Ian Mullen, managing director of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co Asia (P & O) P & O bought a 25 per cent stake in the terminal in November through a joint venture with Swire Pacific.
Last year, throughput at the terminal, located on the east side of the Pearl River estuary, was just under 70,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), compared with a handling capacity of 550,000 TEUs a year at two berths.
Mr Mullen said the new management would take six weeks to two months to assess throughput projections for this year.
But he said the initial forecast was for an increase of 15 to 20 per cent.
P & O effectively assumed management yesterday with the first board meeting, and formation of an executive committee.
Mr Mullen said the new management would focus on enhancing the company's efficiency, its computer programs, management practices and staff training to boost the use of the terminal by shipping firms and consignees.
He noted the problems on the Ma Wan Channel, which had deterred major liner companies from visiting the Shekou port.
''We need to assure them they will have a fast turnaround,'' said Mr Mullen. ''That means the port time taken in visiting Shekou has to be minimal. We have to assure them that the Ma Wan situation is addressed.'' The Hong Kong Government has announced plans to establish a traffic control station on the busy channel.
The system will monitor the passage of large ships, clear of small tugs and craft being towed, so they can round the Ma Wan bend in safety.
The control station is expected to be completed early next year.
''We wouldn't anticipate major liners companies will make regular calls to the Shekou port until the control of the Ma Wan Channel is addressed,'' said Mr Mullen.
He was optimistic of long-term development. ''I would be disappointed if we are not exceeding 300,000 TEUs within a three-year period.'' Because the United States was the largest destination for cargo from China, Mr Mullen did not expect the group's container division, which mainly covers Europe and Australia, would become the largest contributor to SCT in terms of container throughout.