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Mar 04 2013

Jeddah Islamic Port making its mark as a global shipping hub

The Jeddah Islamic Port ranks among the top 100 global ports annually. In fact, the establishment of an integrated project will ensure the presence of a security system that fills any gaps or security breaches at a financial cost of SR 15.98 million. Capt. Saher bin Musa Altahlawi, general manager of the Jeddah Islamic Port , confirmed that the port entered the competition more than a decade ago and became classified as a regional and global hub port, as well as assuming a high ranking position among the most important 100 international ports annually.

In an exclusive interview with Nadim Al-Hamid of Arab News, Altahlawi revealed that the port currently has the energy and operational capacity to meet growing demand for its services over the next five years and can meet the requirements to handle more than 7 million containers and more than 130 million tons of various goods. He also pointed out that the capacity and actual operational levels reached 70 percent of all containers and 58 percent worth of the tons of various goods at the end of last year.

The statement came in a bit to deny rumors circulating in local media sources indicating that the port is suffering from an overpopulation of goods. According to Altahlawi, this accounts for only part of the truth.

The following is the full text of the interview:

The port suffers from the problem of the overstock of goods, both local and external. What measures are being taken to solve this problem?
Initially, let me clarify that the phrase "overstock of goods" at the Jeddah Islamic Port is used in some newspapers, but, in fact, this is not the entire truth. The port currently has sufficient power and operational capacity to meet the demand for its services for the next five years, and to handle more than 7 million containers and more than 130 million tons of cargo.

What are the main obstacles facing the Jeddah Islamic Port ? And how can you overcome them?
The main obstacles facing the port is the storage of the containers and cargo types in the port not only for the grace period during which they are exempt from storage fees, especially during the holidays (holiday of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha), but also beyond this, to affect unloading of ships around the clock, seven days a week. Overcoming such obstacles lies with the response of importers to requests from the departments of the port and customs and other relevant parties to begin procedures for removing their shipments from the port as soon as possible after they are unloaded.

What is new in the way of development projects at the port?
Some of the most important and most prominent projects implemented by the port currently are:

1) The establishment of an integrated project to meet the electricity needs of the port through the renovation and modernization of the existing network.

2) Create a project of four-story parking garages with a total area of 80,000 square meters for each story and a capacity of more than 17,000 cars at a cost of SR 358.1 million.

3) Rehabilitation project of the infrastructure, including ground services related to the sanitation channels and expanding road number 8, which is the most important road, to become a two-track road, as it connects the northern part of the port with its south end longitudinally. The estimated number of trucks and vehicles that use it every day is more than 5,000. Furthermore, the project includes completing the renewal of many of the facilities and equipment at a financial cost of SR 61.6 million.

4) The construction of administrative buildings project. Some of these buildings are offices of many other port administrations and the various security departments working inside the port as well as the building of civil and electrical maintenance management department. The project includes the provision of engineering and consulting services at a financial cost of SR 43.4 million.

5) The construction project of the first phase of the rehabilitation of the fire control system and early warning network, according to the latest systems and international standards in this field. The project includes engineering services for the design and supervision at a financial cost of SR 38.1 million.

6) Rehabilitation project of the first phase of the port docks. It includes deepening, renewing and improving the waterfront and replacement of its sides and spark ligaments with a new one and asphalting its squares at a financial cost of SR 31.1 million.

7) A project to establish a new network of rainwater drainage system. It includes many extensions and channels to ensure the absorption of rainfall and preventing stagnation and accumulation of water over various port streets, roads and squares, at a financial cost of SR 30.1 million.

8) The implementation of the first phase of the establishment of umbrellas used to dump the contents of the containers of food and their equivalents, as well as refrigerated and frozen goods and various types of other goods, which are rapidly affected by weather factors and susceptible to damage. Also to be used for the customs preview purposes at a financial cost of SR 25 million.

9) Creating the new central processing workshop for the maintenance of equipment and various port mechanisms, and create an extension for management personnel, as well as providing various equipment and machinery that meet the jobs of the central workshop at a financial cost of SR 21.5 million.

10) The establishment of a new general storage building according to the latest warehouse engineering and technical specifications, and to be equipped with the latest technical regulation systems in order to achieve easy access to all materials, tools, spare parts, etc. at a financial cost of SR 16.9 million.

11) Create a new building for the Department of Navy that consists of two floors, and is according to the latest architectural and engineering specifications and outfitted with the most modern communication technology and many other equipment related to the follow-up shipping traffic in the port at a financial cost of SR 16.5 million.

12) The establishment of an integrated project to ensure an adequate security system that can fill any gaps or security breaches in all parts of the harbor. Also, this project includes the establishment of electronic barriers as well as the removal and replacement of all the gates of the port with modern front gates at a financial cost of SR 15.9 million.

13) A project to modernize and repair water supply lines and equipment, which includes an integrated network covering all parts of the port and its facilities and materials, as well as engineering and consulting services, at a financial cost of SR 14 milllion.

14) Supplying of equipment and terminal facilities, which include passenger buses, trailers, and pulling carts, to transport people with special needs. This is to cost SR 8 million.

15) Implementation of the first phase of the paving of many roads and squares with asphalt in different parts of the port, at a financial cost of SR 5.5 million.

16) The supplying and installation of a new central air conditioning units for the Tower Chief, passenger terminal, Central building, and scattered areas of the port at a financial cost of SR 4,197,000.

17) Rehabilitation project for stations and sewage canals at a financial cost of SR 3.8 million.

18) Renewal of flooring in passenger terminal at a financial cost of SR 3.3 million.

19) Completion, updating, and improving the area surrounding the administration building and training center, as well as the renovation of toilets in them. Also, this project includes the removal and restoration of some of the buildings, all at a financial cost of SR 3 million.

How much of the cargo gets damaged as a result of the various factors at the port? What are the actions taken by JIP to minimize this percentage?
The JIP administration requires utmost care in the operations of the handlers. In order to ensure safe handling of the cargo, we follow up closely on the parties that are leasing and doing business in the shipping and offloading stations.

Instances of cargo damage are minimal. In most cases they are due to factors in the country of origin. When there is damage, the case is documented and recorded down in minutes signed by company representatives and JIP foremen, as well as by the representatives of importers.

From time to time, JIP administration issues directives to Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urging the Chamber to press upon importers to be present during container offloading, for manual inspection of the containers by the Customs. When there is any damage, its causes are determined and documented, in the presence of the people concerned, who will sign the minutes.

What is the maximum period of time during which the imported cargo is allowed to remain in the port? When this time is exceeded, what are the actions taken by JIP with regard to the parties to whom the containers belong?
The grace periods during which different types of cargo can remain in the port are as follows:

Containers: 10 days from the day on which the cargo is offloaded from the ship.

Cars: Five days from the day on which the cargo is offloaded from the ship.

General merchandise: 13 days from the day on which the cargo is offloaded from the ship.

After the expiry of these time frames, and for a period of no more than two months, the merchandise is taken to the yards reserved for leftovers. A list is made to JIP administration, in preparation for selling the items in public auctions.

There has been recently a problem about the crowding of trucks in the port, due to the new regulations issued by Jeddah Traffic Department (JTD), regulating the times during which the trucks can enter the port. Is there coordination between JIP administration and JTD to solve this problem?
Having on Jan. 26 implemented the organizational mechanism regulating truck traffic in the Governorate of Jeddah, there is no crowding of containers or cargo backlog at the port. The implementation of this mechanism did not (negatively) impact the number of containers and cars, nor the tonnage of the various merchandise and bulk quantities leaving the port daily.

In order to solve the problem of truck crowding at JIP , the Transport Commission at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recently suggested to JIP that the port may construct a city for shipping adjacent to JIP . Any new developments?
JIP administration affirms its keenness on discussing any suggestions that help put an end to the problems of delays of truck traffic, within the ports premisses or during entry to the port or at exit points. We welcome any suggestions that can help upgrade the quality of services at JIP .

The administration of JIP has recently sent a directive to all agents of automobiles in the Kingdom, urging them to place a bar-coded label inside the car showing the technical details of the vehicle from the country of manufacture. What are the latest developments regarding this issue? In case the agents fail to place this label, what would be the action of JIP ?
JIP administration sent two directives (dated Feb. 25, 2012 and April 21, 2012 respectively) to automobile agents, in which they were urged to place said label, in order to ensure the expedient offloading of cars for delivery to the importers. The agents were asked to place two bar-coded labels in each vehicle, showing the information about the car, like the complete chassis number. The information contained in the bill of lading must be identical to the electronic manifest. The second directive gave automobile agents one month, from the date of the second directive, to comply with it.

Many citizens and people who go to JIP for business dealings complain of the excessive bureaucracy and red tape. They also say that there are delays in the processing of their papers. What do you say to that?
All staff of JIP were given a course on how to handle and process documents. During the course, the staff learned methods on how to clear the various types of cargo. The courses are conducted by work teams and specialized committees from JIP and the Department of Customs. They reached a number of conclusions, to the effect that the clearance procedures became very smooth in record time.

You said recently that JIP is conducting a study to increase the port's capacity to fulfill the increasing demand on its services. Can you please elaborate?
JIP 's administration, supported by the Seaports Authority, took some measures to increase the operational and handling capacity of the port. These are:

Expansion of the northern container station by adding three piers, back yards, and by adding many gantry cranes and rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, in addition to many supporting equipment. The operational and handling capacity of the station stands now at more than 2.5 standard containers every year.

Construction of a new container station on the north western side of the port. The station is made up of four piers, and is equipped with 10 gantry cranes and 30 RTG cranes. The operational and handling capacity of the station stands now at more than 2 million standard containers every year.

Upgrade of the southern container station to increase the operational and handling capacity to more than 2.5 million standard containers every year.

When do you think JIP will occupy a prominent position in the region?
For more than a decade, JIP has become competitive, and it is considered one of the pivotal ports in the region and worldwide. It occupies a high rank among the most important 100 ports worldwide.

Tell us about your expectations for JIP in the next 10 years. I would expect demand on JIP services to exceed its operational and handling capacity, in handling the increasing annual number of containers. This number has become more widely used in the marine shipping market. JIP administration is currently conducting a study for the upgrade of JIP 's operational and handling capacity, through the construction of a new container station in the southwestern part of the port. We are also studying the possibility of expanding the three container stations currently available at the port.

Would like to offer a concluding statement?
I wish the papers and the press see the facts and realities of JIP . If they do, they will be reassured of its operational efficiency, and they will see that JIP provides its services in accordance with the highest standards of performance. I wish the press does not just uncritically repeat what is sometimes said of JIP , simply to achieve journalistic sensationalism or to grab a scoop. [Unfortunately] some papers do this. We wish the press become the true mirror reflecting the reality. Any criticism of JIP , we believe, should contribute to the improvement and upgrading of its services. For the public interest to be served, I wish reporters be keen on getting information on, or news about, JIP from its principal sources.

© Arab News 2013


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