Abidjan port terminals are likely to resume loadings of cargo such as cocoa next week, a senior official with shipping group Maersk said.
“Our estimate is that they (cargo terminals) will be ready to handle loadings as early as next week,” Anders Boenaes, vice president for Africa trades at Maersk Line, told Reuters Insider television.
Boenaes said a Maersk vessel could call at San Pedro port soon if the right port conditions were in place.
The West African nation has just emerged from months of unrest following presidential elections last November.
Maersk Line has not called at Ivorian ports since mid-March following European Union sanctions on the country.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said everything was in place for the immediate resumption of cocoa exports—the main foreign revenue earner—and branches of the regional central bank shut for months will likely reopen next week, enabling private banks to do the same.
Asked when trade would likely return to normal in Ivory Coast, Boenaes said: “We hope to be back at 80-90 percent of normal by the beginning or middle part of next week.”
Boenaes told Reuters reporters in Copenhagen that in the best case a Maersk vessel could go into San Pedro this weekend and into Abidjan on Wednesday next week.
“The new president has so far done everything right to get things back on track,” he said.
The ships in question would each have capacity for 2,500 twenty-foot containers and carry a range of goods, he said.
From Ivory Coast they would then go to transit hubs in the Western Mediterranean, Tangier in Morocco or Algeciras in Spain, before the cargoes are shipped to their destinations, Boenaes said.
Boenaes said most cocoa is carried on bulk freighters, but about 40 percent of cocoa beans and especially products such as cocoa butter is carried on container vessels like those in Maersk’s fleet.
Maersk Line normally has four calls in Ivorian ports per week, he said and added: “We will probably resume with three and then evaluate the fourth.”
Boenaes said that some of Maersk’s Asian competitors not bound by the EU sanctions had continued to call at Ivorian ports throughout the crisis, but freight rates for Abidjan cargoes had risen due to the limited supply of shipping into the port. (Reuters)