The TIL Group’s brand new container terminal on the West African coast is open for business, and looks set to become the region’s premier container transshipment terminal.
At sunrise Togo’s Lomé Container Terminal (LCT) is a delightful 19 degrees Celsius. The morning breeze does not yet betray the tropical storm brewing offshore. From atop Ship-to-Shore crane #03 the terminal looks like a concrete oasis, with new Konecranes Rubber Tired Gantry (RTG) cranes and lift trucks moving steadily about their business between neatly ordered stacks of containers. From up here, one can clearly see where the calm industriousness of the port ends and the early morning thrum of downtown Lomé abruptly begins. Fat raindrops begin to fall, and as we dash for our vehicles the terminal becomes a blur of warm rain.
The storm does not last long and soon the familiar beep-beep-beep of moving RTGs once again fills the air.
“The LCT project will put Lomé on the map as one of the world’s important ports and container terminals, and as the first deep sea port enabling transhipment from mainliners directly from the Far East to the West Coast of Africa,” LCT’s Chief Executive, Fred Kamperman, explains.
“We have received outstanding support from every department of the Togolese government,” he continues. This should come as no surprise – at 300 million euros, LCT is the largest ever private investment project in Togo.
The terminal is only halfway complete and already operates at 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) per year – final capacity will be 2.2 million TEUs. As Marc Desmons, TIL’s Engineering Services Manager, blithely puts it, “We have only just begun.”
LCT’s goal is simple – to become the premier transshipment container terminal on the west coast of Africa replete with state-of-the-art systems and equipment. Current ship drafts in the region are limited to between 11 meters and 11.5 meters.
In 2015, LCT already has a draft of 16.6 meters. LCT has the option to expand by another 40 hectares whenever the business dictates.Naturally, a large part of achieving such efficiency is selecting the right equipment. Last year, LCT purchased 22 RTGs – 12 of which have been delivered, with another 10 in production – as well as four reach stackers and seven empty container handlers from Konecranes.
Altogether, Konecranes has delivered in excess of 100 RTGs and 1,000 lift trucks to Africa. The company understands the challenging operational environment and the importance of manufacturing machines that adhere to the highest standards of endurance and reliability.
TIL opted to primarily operate electric RTGs at LCT. Desmons and his team calculated that an electric RTG can save up to 60% of the fuel and maintenance costs associated with diesel RTGs. While the electrification of RTGs is a growing trend around the world, in Africa it is almost unheard of.
When challenged on the point that the supply of electricity is unreliable in many parts of Africa, LCT is bullish: “Not only do we have undertakings from the government regarding electricity supply, we are connected to the grid via Benin and Lomé Bay. Having said that, we do have a back-up diesel-driven power plant with a capacity of 15 megawatts, so we can operate the terminal during any power failure,” says Kamperman.
- LCT is ideally positioned to serve as a transshipment hub for the West African coast, and also serves as a gateway to Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and the northern areas of Nigeria.
- The terminal currently employs 460 people and will have a capacity of 2.2 million TEUs per year.
- It is the largest ever private investment project in Togo.