The Spanish port of Algeciras has narrowly maintained its lead over Valencia as the biggest container hub in the Mediterranean. In 2014 Algeciras handled in excess of 4.5m TEUs, approximately 113,000 TEUs more than its rival. However, a report in the Journal of Commerce claims the port faces mounting competition from new terminals springing up in West Africa.
A significant part of Algeciras’s traffic is generated as its role as a transhipment hub connecting mainline vessels with north-south and feeder services calling in West Africa. But new terminals in the Gulf of Guinea, including the recently-opened Lome Container Terminal (LCT) in Togo, could add up to 10m TEU of deep-sea capacity to the region and boost its role as a hub for east-west and north-south routes. LCT already acts as a hub for direct calls by MSC from Asia.
“This is the start of MSC pioneering a West Africa hub and spoke strategy with LCT as the centre of the new network design from which feeder services will initially connect on a weekly basis to nine different ports,” a spokesman from Drewry Shipping Consultants said.
Algeciras, is also upgrading its facilities, with plans to introduce 12-wheeled gantry cranes this year as part of a US$63m investment programme. The port’s annual capacity will rise to 2m TEU by 2017, when it will be able to accommodate ships of up to 14,000 TEUs.