In many instances the arrival of Gulftainer Company Limited has not only radically changed the fortunes of an ailing port, it has also transformed the regional economy. A prime example is the port of Moroni, capital of the Comoros Islands where prior to Gulftainer taking up the concession, ships were taking four weeks or more to discharge their cargoes.
“We utilised a crane and barge operation along with the limited berth space enabling us to drastically reduce the time the vessels had to spend there,” says Peter Richards Gulftainer Company Limited. “Within eight or nine months we were able to reduce the price of cement, sugar and even rice for the islanders because we were able to cut the cost of bringing those goods in,” he notes, proudly.
It was a similar story at the Brazilian port of Recife, existing in the shadows of the modern port of Suape 70 km away, though Richards points out that Gulftainer’s logistics arm Momentum, set up in 2008, provided further impetus to the project.
“By offering a package we can detract from the fact Recife is a smaller port. By bringing in Momentum’s expertise we can say ‘call at out port and we’ll arrange customs clearance, the actual processing and delivery to the end user, all done by us.”
Momentum was set up in 2008, shortly before, in Richards’ words, “the logistics world fell apart” in 2009.
“It has been nowhere near as rocket-fuelled as we had hoped,” he admits, “but we have learnt some valuable lessons because we really had to fight to get business in the hugely competitive logistics environment in the Middle East. Momentum has got itself involved — through our port operations — in Iraq, Brazil, Turkey and Pakistan and now because of that international presence we are starting to see bigger jobs coming our way.
A major part of Momentum’s business has been supply to Iraq — both from Gulftainer’s port and logistics city in the southern part of the country but also from the North, via Turkey. Richards is particularly proud that Momentum was selected as one of very few logistics companies authorised to supply goods in Afghanistan via Pakistan.
“Momentum Pakistan was selected after only being in existence for six months,” he notes. “It took a lot of hard work to get such a tight set of requirements set by the authorities to qualify for the short list of recommended companies, and it showed me that with the right push Momentum can really achieve.”
Momentum will also play a big role in Gulftainer’s latest port concession in Tripoli, Lebanon, which could have a huge role to play in the overland transport of goods and materials needed throughout the Middle East. It will also create up to 1,000 much-needed local jobs, in keeping with its mantra to ensure that up to 98 per cent of its workforce is local, wherever possible.
Gulftainer’s strong reputation in the UAE has led port authorities across the world to grant it concessions for operating their facilities