Improvements to Mozambique’s Port of Maputo provide additional shipping options for South Africa’s growing citrus industry
Photo: Dawie Scholtz
Ongoing infrastructural and operational improvements in the Mozambiquan port of Maputo are bearing results as part of a long-term plan by the country’s government to increase trade within the region. The newly constructed Maputo Port Fruit Terminal operates a fruit terminal in the port and will provide a gateway for Southern Africa’s international fruit shipments. Earlier this year the Mozambican President Filipe Jacinto Nyusi inaugurated the rehabilitated of four berthing areas in the port which have been rehabilitated, expanded, and dredged to depths of up to –16 m, are now fully operational, allowing the port to receive and load an increasing number of bigger vessels (capesize). The port is also in the process of receiving massive upgrades to quay walls, quay surfaces and roadways.
The port has resumed the export of citrus from South Africa, which is extremely good news for South African citrus shippers. Using Maputo as a port has been a goal for the South African citrus industry, which has been working towards achieving this for several years. For citrus growers in South Africa’s northern provinces, the cost of transporting their fruit up to 800km to the Port of Durban and then facing the challenges of port inefficiencies, congestion and delays threatens the financial sustainability of their farming operations. As Maputo is considerably closer to the South Africa’s northern citrus production regions, growers in this region would save time and costs, using this as a port of exit. The port is performing well, as the turn-around time for trucks, time for getting the fruit into the stacks, and ship dwell times are significantly outperforming Durban.
There are significant investments underway in the port by a range or role players, and while the port currently only has ambient (non- refrigerated) storage facilities, The Logistics Group and Fresh Produce Terminals have started construction of the Maputo Cold Store at the Matola Cargo Terminal adjacent to the port. Initially Matola Cargo Terminal FPT will have 1,500 refrigerated pallet slots available from end of April 2023, in time for the start of the Southern African citrus season, and the possibility exists for further expansion.
Two main container line services aligned to citrus exports are calling at Maputo. These include shipping operations to the Middle East, India, and Singapore. In addition, there is an option to ship citrus to Bangladesh from Maputo.
The South African citrus industry has grown massively in the past decade and is almost entirely export focussed. As one of the biggest challenges that the industry faces is port inefficiency and the associated costs, so for South Africa’s citrus growers, access to this additional port of exit for their product could not have come at a better time.
Photo: Dawie Scholtz