Port Rashid will close to cargo by March
Global marine terminal operator DP World has confirmed that the handling of general and non-containerised cargo handling operations at Port Rashid in central Dubai will be relocated to its flagship facility at Jebel Ali in March.
The move follows the departure of most containerised cargo from the city centre port, which took place in the third quarter of 2007. Limited container handling facilities will remain at Port Rashid, as will the cruise liner and ferry terminals.
DP World claim the move has been motivated by requests from shipping lines to move to the brand new container terminal at Jebel Ali which opened in the third quarter of last year. Staff and equipment associated with general and non-containerised cargo handling will relocate to Jebel Ali by the end of March.
Some container handling capacity will remain at Port Rashid, and cruise ships and ferries will continue to use the port as they do currently.
"We have discussed our services with our customers, who are keen to take advantage of our new facility at Jebel Ali," said Mohammed Al Muallem, senior vice president and managing director of DP World's UAE region.
"There is also the potential for our customers, and their customers, the shippers, to explore opportunities to improve supply chain efficiencies with the free zone expansion and development of new airport facilities at Jebel Ali, which will be focused on cargo movement," he added.
However, shipping lines, which currently utilise Port Rashid, may choose another gateway into the UAE that's nearer their base of operations. "From Sharjah right up to the other end of Dubai we now have a massive commercial conurbation, and clients located at one end of the Emirate may find the logistics of using a terminal closer to their facility more convenient and cost effective in the future," explains Keith Nuttall, commercial manager, Gulftainer.
The closure of Port Rashid to most of its commercial cargo operations will no doubt spur competition from the UAE's other gateway terminals. Facilities in Ajman and Sharjah will certainly be vying for an extra slice of Gulf cargo. Thanks to an unprecedented period of investment in port infrastructure throughout the UAE, the potential competitors are well placed to bid for that business.
"The extra capacity has been planned for and is very much in place for an expansion of business at the Khorfakkan terminal," added Nuttall.
Although the exact future of Port Rashid has not been confirmed, the winding down of its heavy industrial activities is certain. "These operations may move to add to the thriving business we have at Jebel Ali, but Port Rashid is part of our history and will therefore always be important to us and to our city," said Al Muallem.