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Cosco dock going from strength to strength

By Nikos Bardounias

The container handling rate at Dock II of the port of Piraeus has soared this year, with the Piraeus Container Terminal (PCT), a subsidiary of China’s Cosco Pacific Ltd, handling more than 1.6 million containers in the year to end-September. This was considerably higher than the target of 1.4 million containers and about 96 percent more than the items handled in the same period last year.

According to data published by Cosco Pacific, in September alone PCT handled 171,000 containers, which was 77.4 percent more than in the same month in 2011.

PCT officials estimate that by the end of December, some 2.1 million 20-foot equivalent units (teu) will have passed through Dock II.

The original target had been for 2 million teu for the whole year.

The same sources stressed that Piraeus remains the most dynamic container terminal for the Chinese company in Europe and the Mediterranean, as in the first nine months of 2012, out of the terminals that Cosco controls, Piraeus registered an annual increase of 96 percent, while Naples posted a 19.1 percent rise, Antwerp an 11.6 percent decline, and Suez a 9.5 percent drop in container handling.

“It is obvious that Cosco is directing more and more of its cargo toward Piraeus, and Dock II in particular, which it controls 100 percent, illustrating how significant the port of Piraeus is for its strategic plans,” a source from the International Maritime Union (IMU) who preferred not to be named told Kathimerini.

The same IMU source added that “the reduction of bureaucracy, the competitive rates, the high productivity, as well as the certainty you feel when bringing cargo to Dock II, have contributed in our great majority choosing the Chinese, as we know we will not come up against any unforeseeable circumstances that will cause problems in the proper handling of containers.”

Through its parent company Cosco, PCT has planned significant investments for the further modernization of Dock II, as well as the faster completion of construction work for Dock III, so that once both docks start operating simultaneously the number of containers handled is seen reaching 3.7 million teu per year.

The schedule is for Dock III to become fully operational by 2015. A Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) statement a month ago confirmed that “the projects are being carried out within the contractual dates.”

In the context of the expansion and improvement of services offered, PCT has also proceeded to the construction of ultramodern logistics facilities covering 7,000 square meters. In that new space there is a facility of 5,200 square meters for the storage of dry-cargo loads, while 620 square meters will cater for containers whose cargo requires deep-freeze or refrigeration.

PCT sources told Kathimerini that among the comparative advantages of the new storage facility Cosco has built in Piraeus is the fact that it is located within the port’s free zone type I, which allows for the handling and storage of cargo loads without any customs procedures or guarantees or other bureaucratic processes until their eventual customs clearance and the full or partial exit from the free zone for their absorption by the local market.

ekathimerini.com , Tuesday October 30, 2012 (23:09)  
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