INTERNATIONAL Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) on Thursday said it allotted over $100 million for the expansion of its container terminal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The listed company said in a statement on Thursday it “earmarked more than $100 million” for the second phase expansion of its Congolese subsidiary, Matadi Gateway Terminal (MGT), which is expected to start by 2020.

“The expansion of MGT is aligned with actual and projected container growth rates for the DRC, and corresponds with cargo owner and shipping line requirements for the medium term,” Hans Ole Madsen, ICTSI senior vice-president, was quoted as saying in the statement.

As part of Phase 2, MGT will expand the quay to over 500 meters from 375 meters, and double the yard area to 10.5 hectares. Once completed, the terminal will be able to service two West Africa Maximum (WAFMAX) class vessels.

“The expansion grants the terminal substantial flexibility to optimize container capacity, stacking, and clearance/drop-off arrangements,” ICTSI said.

A third Kone mobile harbor crane, which can turn a 2,500-twenty-foot-equivalent-unit capacity vessel in under 12 hours, will be installed at the MGT.

“In the pipeline are DR Congo’s first pair of ship-to-shore (STS) gantry cranes, expected to optimize vessel turnaround times; new landside yard handling equipment; and the latest IT systems for optimized terminal operations,” ICTSI added.

ICTSI noted that Matadi offers the “lowest” inland transport cost as it is the closest port to Congo’s capital city, the Kinshasa. The company said it is currently in discussions with relevant authorities in Congo to enhance the rail service between Matadi and Kinshasa.

“With the support from the DRC government, a two-step plan is underway to dredge the Congo River to a deeper draft of 12.5 meters, which will allow access to Panamax-class vessels,” ICTSI added.

The third phase of the expansion project will enable MGT to service larger WAFMAX vessels.

“The market is seeing positive growth albeit off a relatively low base in terms of total demand. Studies suggest that DRC will achieve emerging market country status within the next 10 years and as such, we are very confident that this nearly $100-million expansion plan anticipates the market’s requirements over this period and will deliver unrivaled efficiencies,” Mr. Madsen said.

The MGT is a joint venture of ICTSI and La Societe De Gestion Immobiliere Lengo. — Arjay L. Balinbin