A new citrus terminal is under way with plans to have the first vessel leaving the port in two weeks’ time, a spokesperson for the newly established Maputo Port Fruit Terminal (MPFT) told Zitamar.
The new facility will service fruit exporters from southern Africa, and development plans include cold storage facilities by 2023. The first vessel leaving Maputo with citrus is scheduled for 1 April, the spokesperson said, with target markets mainly in South East Asia and the Middle East, and “maybe Russia”.
MPFT says Maputo “is the logical choice as [an] export channel” and will alleviate congestion in Durban, South Africa, with volumes increasing every year.
“For fruit producers in Eswatini, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern KwaZulu Natal, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, it makes perfect sense also from a logistical cost perspective — especially the producers closer to Maputo than Durban,” the company said.
Citrus is not a new commodity to the Maputo port, having been exported from a citrus terminal until 2013, with South African citrus growers sending up to 120 000 pallets per year through Maputo.
Last week, the Port of Maputo, managed by the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC), was given the green light for an expansion, at a meeting of the Council of Ministers on 8 March.
The new concession will see 138 hectares added to the existing 140 hectares of infrastructure, after years of increased investment and activity in the facility.
MPDC told Zitamar expansion plans include constructing two rail lines to double chromium handling capacity from 2 million tonnes to 4 million tonnes; extending the ore storage area to 9.2 million tonnes; and expanding the coal and magnetite storage area at the Matola Coal Terminal from the current 7.3 million tonnes to 12 million tonnes.
MPDC will reveal its new master plan in May, which will focus on efficiency and sustainable development, and will see a 10-million-tonne increase in the annual handling capacity, from the current 32 million tonnes to 42 million tonnes per year.
MPDC said that the 24-hour opening of the border between Mozambique and South Africa is “a fundamental aspect for its success”, given that citrus is “very time-sensitive”. MPDC expects border operations around the clock “to be a reality soon”.
Citrus terminal operator MPFT told Zitamar that issues around border crossing and entrance to the port “shouldn’t be a concern,” saying “many players have plans in place to assist with logistical challenges.”
It has been reported that Mozambique and South Africa are finalising the details on an agreement to keep the Lebombo-Ressano Garcia border crossing open 24 hours a day. The business sector has long warned that the restrictions harm competitiveness.
On 5 March the port welcomed its first cruise ship since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with 270 passengers.