Upsurge in volume of cargo at Gambia seaport

Monday, November 06, 2017

The Gambia Ports Authority has said that the volume of cargo being handled at the country’s seaport has currently experienced an upsurge, which is more than the projected annual average growth.

According to Ousman M. Jobarteh, the deputy managing director of The Gambia Ports Authority, this may be attributable to renewed confidence in the market, increased volume of transit cargo as well as new entrants.

On Sunday, November 5th 2017, americanshipper.com published an article decrying, “A lack of space at the terminal has resulted in imposed fees ranging from $150 to $300 per container, which cover all trades into Banjul, Gambia.”

Ocean carriers CMA CGM and Maersk Line have since issued customer advisories, stating an emergency port congestion surcharge would be added to all cargo flowing into the port of Banjul. 

A Maersk Line spokesman said the congestion was due to lack of space at the terminal. The current high yard density is delaying operations, the spokesman said.

The Gambia’s seaport has only two berths with adequate water depths to accommodate ocean going ships as recurrent situation over the years has been a major impediment, Mr.Jobarteh said to The Point through a dispatch following request for a comment from this reporter.

“The Port has already embarked on a procurement process to contract the services of dredging companies for dredging of the jetty areas in order to achieve adequate water depths alongside, which will increase the available berths from two to five, thus reducing ships’ waiting time at anchorage,” he stated, revealing that the exercise is expected to be completed by end December 2017.

However, CMA CGM’s customer advisory stated that port congestion in Banjul is currently increasing their operational costs and generating service disruptions, maintaining that they will therefore implement emergency Port Congestion Surcharge (PCS).

Several surcharges from Europe and the Mediterranean to Banjul were issued effective Oct. 15, with surcharges from Asia to Banjul become effective Oct. 22. “In order to continue offering our high quality and unmatched reliability, we will be introducing a congestion fee (CFD) applicable to ALL Import Cargo in Banjul, effective October 24,” announced Maersk Line.

In addition, Gambia Ports Authority said “immediate efficiency improvement measures have been implemented by creation of an off-dock empty container storage yard at Bund Road.

With a view to increasing cargo handling productivity and efficiency, a 24-hour delivery of containerised essential bulk cargo import commodities and transit cargo as well as procurement of additional handling equipment, they said.

Also, GPA argued the Port Handling Charges have been reduced by 50% in 2009 and that even concessions continue to be accorded for demurrage charges, particularly for essential commodities such as food items that have already been paid for and delivery could not be effected due to the congestion. 

Author: Sanna Camara
Source: Picture: Ousman M. Jobarteh, Deputy Managing Director Ports