By Peter Alagos/Business Reporter

HE the Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani welcomed on Sunday the arrival of heavy load carrier Zhen Hua 10, the first ship to be docked at the Hamad Port at Umm Alhoul in the Mesaieed area.
The ship, which arrived directly from China, delivered the first cranes for Hamad Port's operations, mainly four ship-to-shore (STS) and eight rubber tire gantry (RTG) cranes, marking a new milestone for the port project.
In a speech, HE the Minister of Transport Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti said: “We have now received the first commercial vessel at Hamad Port and the arrival of the first set of ship-to-shore cranes. Once installed, the ship-to-shore cranes will be able to offload the largest shipping containers from the largest cargo ships in the world.”
He said the opening of the new port will modernise the way Qatar handles ocean imports and exports, increasing maritime trade and facilitating growth and diversification of Qatar’s economy. "To achieve the objectives of the pillars of the Qatar National Vision 2030, the port will support economic diversification and improve the region’s competitiveness by transforming Qatar into a regional sea trading hub.”
Speaking to Gulf Times on the sidelines of the welcome ceremony for Zhen Hua 10, al-Sulaiti said aside from the first batch of container handling equipment to Hamad Port’s Container Terminal 1, more gantry cranes are expected to be delivered to Qatar within the year.
“Two more consecutive deliveries are scheduled in the coming months with the third one expected by the end of 2015, bringing the total container equipment for Hamad Port Container Terminal 1 to eight STS gantry cranes and 26 RTGs,” said al-Sulaiti, who is also chairman of Hamad Port Steering Committee.
“Following the completion of all marine infrastructure, the installation of STS and RTG cranes will announce the completion of another important milestone in the construction of Hamad Port. This means that the mega port will soon be ready for operation, although the construction of buildings, roads, and utilities is still underway.”
Since all marine infrastructure has already been completed and ready for operation, al-Sulaiti added that the Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani) will start “early operation” on limited types of ships and cargoes such as the import of vehicles and livestock by the fourth quarter of 2015.
According to al-Sulaiti, Mwani is aiming for a “smooth and progressive” shifting of operations from Doha Port to Hamad Port by using Hamad Port terminals and facilities as they become available to ensure uninterrupted schedules of shipping operations during the shifting.
The Transport Minister stressed that once Phase 1 is completed in December 2016, Hamad Port will be one of the largest multi-purpose ports in the region, including a Container Terminal CT-1 with 2mn TEUs capacity.
It also includes two other container terminals with phased development, which will bring the port’s total container capacity to 6mn TEUs, a general cargo terminal, a multi-use terminal, an offshore supply base, a coast guard facility, and a port marine unit.
Hamad Port will also have a centralised customs area, a port administrative district, and two freight railway stations. It was also designed to have both rail and highway links to the GCC, which will boost its presence as a regional logistics hub, al-Sulaiti said.

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