Such an investment in Quayside Canes of this magnitude was imperative for the Freeport considering that shipping lines are heavily investing in ever-larger container vessels. This phenomenon is having a direct influence on the quayside cranes being deployed by terminals as they need to have a longer outreach. Moreover, given that the new vessels have higher container stacks above the deck, the cranes also require increased lifting height. With the investment in these Quayside Cranes Malta Freeport Terminals can effectively handle containerships of over 13,500 TEUs at its facilities.
Following the extension of the concession agreement in February 2008 which the Government of Malta granted Malta Freeport Terminals, from 30 years to 65 years, the Company was obliged to undertake an extensive expansion programme targeting the Port's infrastructure and equipment. Such investment was imperative for Malta Freeport to be able to boost its international stand considering the intense competition in which it is operating. The heavy investment in these 4 super post-Panamax Quayside Cranes, amounting to €24.5 million, is part of this investment programme. Since privatisation of Malta Freeport Terminals in October 2004 till the end of last year Malta Freeport Terminals has invested €92.3 million. This included the purchase of new equipment including five Quayside Cranes, Yard Cranes, modernisation of existing equipment and infrastructural works including the development of the container yard and dredging works. The Company will be developing further its infrastructure and purchasing other equipment investing an additional €145.5 million in its facilities. The higher capacity level being attained at the Container Terminals in view of the expansion programme underway is necessitating the creation of new employment opportunities particularly within the field of Operations.
Following the heavy investment programme which the Company is pursuing in its facilities, the business opportunities for the Freeport are expected to increase remarkably in the coming years. The Freeport has already acquired a significant amount of new business. Indeed, the traffic volume handled by Malta Freeport has increased remarkably by 59.6% since being privatised to reach 2.33 million TEUs last year. This represented amongst the highest percentage increases in traffic volumes in the Mediterranean transhipment market. Despite the international recession, during the first six months of this year Malta Freeport Terminals has managed to maintain last year's traffic volumes and indeed a similar amount of throughput level is expect to be handled this year. It is to be highlighted that other Mediterranean transhipment ports have experienced a decrease of around 20% in their throughput levels during this year. The positive results being registered are further empowering Malta Freeport Terminals to sustain its expansion programme so as to further raise the performance levels being attained whilst reaching its target of exceeding the three million TEU mark by 2011
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