Malta Freeport Terminals CEO Alex Montebello has welcomed the landmark agreement reached with Government for the freeport’s first terminal expansion in two decades.
The agreement will see the facility’s reputation as a leading transhipment hub become further enhanced, together with it also providing benefits to the local economy and environment.
The project will extend the north quay at the freeport’s Terminal Two by 176 metres and the west quay by 195 metres, ensuring the facility will be able to handle new and future liquefied natural gas-powered (LNG-powered) mega containerships which are already more than four football pitches in length and carry 23,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers.
Upon completion of the project, Malta Freeport Terminals will renounce its right to install quay cranes on the west quay of Terminal One, which is currently the most visible from the shore of Birżebbuġa, in a “major boon” for residents.
Announcing the agreement at a joint press conference with Minister for the Economy, EU Funds and Land Silvio Schembri, Malta Freeports Terminals CEO Mr Montebello remarked that the Terminal Two extension will be a “win-win for everyone”.
“For our facility’s capability to handle the world’s largest container ships with maximum efficiency, for the Birżebbuġa residents, and for local importers and exporters, who will benefit from more services than ever before,” he explained.
He added that the project will also generate “more than 160 new jobs” and take the investment in the facility since privatisation “past the €400 million mark”, thus making Malta Freeport Terminals “one of the biggest ever investors in Maltese history”.
The freeport has already undertaken a €320 million strategic investment programme in state-of-the-art machinery and equipment.
Recent acquisitions include two “giant” megamax quay cranes, which are described as “the most technologically advanced and environmentally friendly on the market capable of handling mega containerships”, as well as the latest IT systems which make it possible to plan and execute operations with maximum efficiency.
Today, the freeport offers services to 120 ports worldwide, more than 50 of which are in the Mediterranean, through several mainline services operated by major shipping lines, and was recently named by the prestigious shipping publication Lloyds List among the top 10 ports in the world in terms of growth in percentage terms.
The facility, which handles almost three million TEU containers per year, provides direct employment for more than 1,500 people and contributes €170 million – equal to two per cent of Gross Domestic Product – making it a “major pillar of Malta’s economy”.
Malta Freeport Terminals has also been a big supporter of the local community, sponsoring a range of activities ranging from sports clubs, to the local school, to services for vulnerable children and elderly residents.
As a result of the extension agreement, the facility also added that it will be making an additional contribution to the community of €300,000 in its ongoing commitment to the neighbourhood.
Malta Freeport Terminals CEO Alex Montebello (second from right) explaining the project to Minister Silvio Schembri (second from left)
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