Enfidha, Tunisia (PortSEurope) November 8 – A concessioner for the future deep-sea port of Enfidha, on Tunisia’s Eastern Mediterranean Sea coastline between Tunis and Sfax, will be selected among six bidding companies and consortiums by the end of November, Chokri Amiri, president and CEO of the company managing the port said. This is a significant development of a project that has been delayed by more
than 10 years due to the political and economic instability in Tunisia after the 2011 revolution. Previous announcement said that works of phase one of the project were to start by September 2020. It is unclear whether Tunisia’s crisis-stricken economy will be able to afford such an ambitious project after a decade of political instability that has stymied foreign investment. Heavily indebted, with galloping inflation and massive unemployment worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, Tunisia last hope is a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to official information from February 2020, phase one was aiming to develop over 3,000 hectares (ha) including port infrastructure and a logistical area covering 2,000 ha. This should enable the port to handle 1.2 million containers annually, to be increased to 1.6 million after the completion of a second development phase. The new official information confirms that the project would be developed in two phases by 2030. The first one to start in 2022 is to take three years and the second will take five years. The cost of the first stage of the project is expected to be $1,040 billion, of which 75% will be state funds and 25% will come from the private sector. The new plan is for Enfidha deep-sea port to have a capacity of 4.8 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit) containers and to open 52,000 jobs after the completion of the project. The Enfidha port will allow Tunisia to get connected with the principal transport hubs in the East and the West that will reduce shipping delays by up to 10 days and will cut costs by up to 15%. It is also expected to attract part of the container transshipment traffic in the central and western Mediterranean. The development is controversial. Some see the location as not directly on the East-West sea lanes, and that Bizerte in the north of the country would be a more logical choice. Others favour development of existing ports and solving their issues, rather than a new structure, adding that the country has enough economic challenges which need addressing. But in January 2017, l’Office de la Marine Marchande et des Ports (OMMP) declared that Tunisia would develop a deep-water port at Enfidha. According to the latest update from end-2018 in Global Infrastructure Project Pipeline (a free digital platform that allows governments to promote public infrastructure projects to a global investor network), the project will develop a new container terminal. The port will be able to handle vessels up to 80,000 DWT instead of the current 25,000 DWT for solid bulk and 15,000 TEU container vessels with a draft of 17 m. The project is to attract a share of containers and bulk cargo trans-shipment operation in the Mediterranean Sea. It will create synergy between the port and the special logistic and economic zones, promote multi-modal transport and encourage investment in the region. Phase 1 will be operational in 2024, but already in 2022 1200 m of berths will be completed (phase 1a), with a handling capacity of 1 million TEU per year. The total capacity of phase 1 is 4.3 million TEU. The main construction works for phase 1 include: two break-waters: the 800 m long north jetty and the south jetty with 1,500 m in length; dredging of the access channel (2,300 m x 350 m) with a depth of 19 m, of the turning basin with diameter of 900 m and depth 19 m and of the port basin with a width of 500 m and depth 18 m; port access road (12 km). First phase of the container terminal (110 ha) with 2,000 m berth length (5 berths of 400 m) with depth of 18 m. First phase of the multipurpose terminal (28 ha) with berth length 1120 m and depth of 15 m. The project does not include handling equipment (rubber-tired gantry crane – RTG, ship to shore gantry crane – SSG, reach stackers, front-end loaders, trailers, tractors) and miscellaneous ancillary equipment – they are to be provided by the concessionaire. According to Taieb Bayahi, President of the Arab Institute of Business Leaders (IACE), Tunisia has the weakest port logistics in Africa. The six commercial ports in Tunisia are unable to boost maritime transport because they can only accommodate ships whose load does not exceed 1,500 containers. This logistical inability costs the Tunisian economy losses estimated by the World Bank at 20% of GDP. For efficient operations of the largest commercial port of Tunisia, the port of Rades, the load of ships must be 3,500 containers, but the infrastructure of the port and its depth (only 9 m) can only accommodate ships carrying up to 1,500 containers. Port of Rades, which is located less than 100 km north of Enfidha, handles some 98% of Tunisian export, 70% of total foreign trade of the country, and 90% of Tunisia’s container traffic. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.