Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Yangshan Sea-Port: An Inspiration for KPA?

We’ve got to hand it to the Chinese for boldness in setting development targets and the absolute self-confidence and innovativeness with which they go about meeting them. It is no surprise that they regularly put up world beating mega-structures which continue to move forward the frontiers of technology.

After Singapore and Hong Kong, the Shangai Port is the third largest in the world. But confronted with its diminishing capacity to handle the ever increasing volumes of cargo and coupled with competition from the other ports, the Chinese authorities decided to build Yangshan port out at sea that would raise Shanghai’s cargo handling capacity to 6.5billion tonnes and 22million TEU’s per year by 2020. (TEU=Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit or container)

Construction of the first phase of the project took four years between 2000 and 2004. This consisted of the Yangshan Deep-Sea Port proper, sitting on reclaimed land and connected to mainland Shanghai by the third largest bridge in the world, the 32.5Km Donghai Bridge. The sea-port has five berths with depths of up to 16metres, enough to accommodate the largest of container ships. The first phase alone handles 3million TEU’s a year and cost USD 2.5billion.

When fully completed in 2012, the port will have four phases in operation with 30 berths handling 15million TEU’s per year. A new city, Yangshan New City, will be built right next to the sea-port of Yangshan whose total cost is expected to reach USD 12billion.

The development of Yangshan sea-port is the kind of inspirational stuff that should spur our infrastructure managers with their humble ‘plans’ for our good old Mombasa Port. Making mission/vision statements about being the ‘premier port of choice for East and Central Africa by 2020’ are obviously a more pleasurable pastime than building one. With the kind of strange paralysis currently at the port of Mombasa, 2020 will still find us planning.

Seeing that Mombasa Port is unlikely to compete with Shangai in two lifetimes, wouldn’t we do better by asking the Chinese to set up shop at the port of Mombasa to expand its capacity rather than enticing them with EPZ plots in Changamwe?

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