Used as a port since 1638 when the first Dutch settlers arrived on the island and once a stopping point on the sea route to India, Port Louis is now a regional hub for the transhipment of goods.
The Indian Ocean bears substantial economic significance, particularly for the trade and freight transport sectors. Half of the world’s container ships, one-third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world’s petrol shipments pass through the region. For major shipping lines, transhipment has become an essential tool in the exploitation of the economies of scale provided by biggest ships.
This activity is particularly important for Mauritius, which is located at the intersection of several busy shipping lanes. Port Louis now acts as a transhipment hub for East Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and other islands in the Indian Ocean, as well as a relay port for more distantdestinations, such as Latin America. The strategy is based on a hub-and-spoke model, which is the moving of containers from larger shipping vessels to smaller vessels, ultimately connecting the outlying ports.
Various measures have been implemented in recent years to accommodate larger vessels and to increase container traffic. To improve the overall capacity, the pre-existing 560-meter-long Mauritius Container Terminal dock was extended by 240 meters, and dredging was carried out to increase the depth of the navigation channel by 16.5 meters.
According to figures from the Mauritius Ports Authority (MPA), the agency responsible for port management, the acquisition of additional equipment and the extension of ancillary facilities also aim to achieve a transhipment rate of 485,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) by 2020 and 745,000 TEUs by 2025. Given the growth in transhipment traffic, it is planned to extend the Mauritius Container Terminal dock by an additional 160 meters in the coming years to accommodate up to three different-sized vessels at the same time and increase the overall capacity to 950,000 TEUs. By 2020, container traffic is expected to reach 800,000 TEUs.
By 2025, container traffic is expected to exceed one million TEUs, which would justify the development of an Island Container Terminal. For this purpose, the MPA is undertaking a techno-economic study financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
The development of the Island Container Terminal encompasses the construction of breakwaters, which are essential for dealing with the disruption of port operations caused by the swell – Port Louis was unable to operate for about 20 days from January to April 2018 for this reason. The transformation of Mauritius’s port into a transhipment centre also implies a gain in productivity, an increase in the number of container moves per hour. Another important point is the expansion of the captive market, with a strong industrial base to stimulate the flow of imports of raw materials and exports of fifinished products.
If the conditions are right for a successful modernisation, Mauritius could become a platform for the consolidation and deconsolidation of containers, with a beneficial impact on Velogic’s freight forwarding business.
As a recognised specialist in supply chain management in Mauritius and the region, the strength of Rogers’ logistics hub lies in the fact that it has its own offices abroad, notably in France, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Reunion Island, Bangladesh and Kenya.
It also has excellent relationships with shipping companies, airlines and agents, allowing it to offer tailor-made logistics solutions. In addition, its container deposit services will benefit from the expected throughput increase.
After nearly four centuries of activity, Port Louis remains a central driving force for the national economy.