By Ramesh Mathew/Staff Reporter
A further improvement in cargo movement to and from Qatar is expected in the coming days as new maritime services are launched and global shipping firms ramp up operations, it is learnt.
The efforts come in the wake of the blockade imposed on Qatar by some neighbouring countries a couple of weeks ago. The row initially affected traffic to Hamad Port but, as reported in Gulf Times recently, the situation improved soon after.
Now, sources say cargo traffic at Hamad Port is expected to see a further improvement as the parties concerned - port officials and shipping companies - look to seal new transport deals that will help improve direct services to and from Qatar. More global liners are reportedly keen to call on Hamad Port, looking to utilise its infrastructural facilities, according to the sources.
The shipping firms are buoyed by the recent launch of new maritime services between Qatar and countries such as Oman and India. For instance, a new shipping line opened between Qatar and India connects Hamad Port with the Mundra and Nhava Sheva ports in India. Another new direct service between Hamad Port and Sohar Port in Oman is expected to provide a boost to food imports into Qatar.
Hamad Port has also announced that it will launch and add new service lines with Europe and Southeast Asia in the coming days.
Interactions with the representatives of some international shipping firms in Doha revealed that they were working round the clock to facilitate the arrival of a number of vessels, carrying shipments to meet the country’s requirements.
A senior official of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), a leading global player, said at least five vessels of their company would call on Hamad Port until the end of this month. Efforts were also on to bring more of the company’s ships to Qatar beyond that as well, he added.
One of the company’s vessels could not be routed to Doha from a port in Saudi Arabia and had to be rerouted through Iraq’s Umm Qasr. Eventually, it unloaded its shipments in Doha last Wednesday. Also, a 9,000-TU ship arrived from Mundra port while another vessel is expected to come to Doha from Nhava Sheva in a few days’ time, the official added.
Arrangements are also being made to resume - in full swing - key exports from Qatar to a Chinese port and more than 350 containers are being brought from Salalah in Oman to Hamad Port, he points out. Besides, an MSC vessel from the Far East, covering at least three Chinese ports and Singapore, among others, is also expected to call on Hamad Port by end of the month and it will carry exports from Qatar on its return voyage.
The shipping circles are optimistic that the ongoing cargo-handling operations will further improve business through Hamad Port.
According to a Reuters report published by Gulf Times recently, the world’s biggest container line, Maersk of Denmark, had said it would accept new bookings for container shipments to Qatar from Oman.
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