The island country of Mauritius is a well-developed economy. This economic prosperity is attributed to the country’s flourishing tourism sector, sugar, textiles, and finance industry.
Mauritius has one of the world’s biggest economic zones and in 2012, the government decided to focus on the development of the marine sector.
The island nation spans 1,865 kilometres and has a coastline stretching 330 miles. Most of the population lives in the capital city, Port Louis which is also the country’s most important port and a highly popular tourist destination.
Situated amidst the Indian Ocean, Mauritius has two seaports namely, Port Louis Harbour and Port Mathurin. Both these ports are crucial for the country as they handle all the import-export trade and make significant contributions to the island nation’s growing economy.
The Ports Act of 1991 laid the foundation of the Mauritius Marine Authority, now known as the Mauritius Port Authority (MPA). This body is solely responsible for operating and controlling the ports and port operations. It is established as a landlord and offers infrastructure facilities. Marine and navigation services are also offered. This port authority is quite particular about environmental regulations.
In this regard, the MPA has implemented the Green Port Concept. It has brought in an Environment Management System and an efficient system of waste management for recycling batteries, oil and composting biodegradable waste. The body is also monitoring air and water quality and preserving biodiversity in the port areas. Port companies have welcomed this initiative by signing the Port Environmental Charter.
In the coming years, MPA aims to further upgrade port facilities at both the country’s seaports. New machinery imports, setting up professional port management, increasing the ports’ capacity and greater integration into international shipping lines are some of the future objectives of the body.
Refurbishing port facilities and equipment is another crucial aspect to attract foreign investment and big shipping companies.
Port Louis Harbour
Port Louis is the premier port of Mauritius. It handles about 99% of the island nation’s international trade, which is around 7.5 million tonnes of cargo every year. It handles most of the imports such as packaged food products, petroleum products, and raw materials for the textile sector. Also, most of the country’s exports such as sugar, textiles, handicrafts are sent from this harbour.
In recent years it has become a trading hub of national importance. Port Louis has the most latest port equipment and offers one of the most reliable port facilities. It also boasts a beautiful waterfront and also a cruise terminal.
Port Louis is strategically located in the Indian Ocean, well-linked with the major maritime routes going towards Europe, Africa, Australia and Asia. It is a major centre of shipping and also the region’s primary transhipment location.
Port Louis handled 7.273 million tonnes of cargo in 2016, in which the imports were 6.007 million tonnes and exports accounted for 1.266 million tonnes. It saw 388,515 TEUs of container traffic including 265,927 TEUs containers and 122,588 TEUs transhipment goods. It handled a total of 2,934 vessels in the same year.
Port Louis has 16 berths and three terminals.
Terminal 1 includes the old peninsular port and the Fishing Port at Trou Fanfaron. This terminal has 3 docks namely docks A, D and E, measuring 210, 170 and 135 meters respectively. They handle Fuel oil, cooking oil, General bulk cargo, wheat, Maize, Molasses and Soybean. Wheat is unloaded at dock D and then transferred to nearby silos with a capacity of 40,000 tonnes.
This terminal also transports passengers and also undertakes inter-island trade. The fishing port has three docks that handle the transport of fish from the port to the cities.
Ship repair and maintenance is undertaken at this terminal by the company, Taylor Smith & Co. Limited. It has two wharves and can take up ships measuring around 100 meters.
It has 4 docks and it functions as a multipurpose terminal, receiving diverse cargo. Dock 1 measures 123 meters and handles white oil, fertilizers, fuel oil and coal. Dock 2 is 180 meters long and deals with coal, containers, general bulk cargo and cement. Dock 3 is 185 meters and deals with containers, general goods and cement and lastly dock 4 handles LPG and Bitumen apart from general cargo.
This terminal has two large storage tanks for cement with a total capacity of 95,500 tonnes. It also has 4,700 tonnes of storage space for tallow. Containers with a capacity of 1000 tonnes are used for storing caustic soda.
A private company, Chantier Naval de l’Océan Indien Ltée undertakes construction, repair and maintenance of ships at this terminal. It has one 146 m long quay dedicated to shipping repairs.
It includes Mauritius Container Terminal (MCT). It has two docks namely MCT 1 AND MCT 2 with the latest container scanning facility. Expansion activity at the port began in 2017 in which the wharf length of the Mauritius Container Terminal was increased to 800 meters.
This has enabled the terminal to handle 2 huge container ships at once. The navigation channel was deepened to 16.5 meters, making it one of the deepest ports in the Indian Ocean.
Presently, the port can handle ships with a 15-meter draft and a total capacity of 13,500 TEUs. The up-gradation and expansion of the MCT have increased the terminal’s handling capacity to 1 million TEUs.
The Mauritius Container Terminal spans 34 hectares, with the container storage yard taking up 21 hectares. It has a turning basin and 576 reefer points. The terminal equipment includes 14 Gantry cranes, 5 Panamax cranes and 2 Super Post Panamax cranes.
Bulk Sugar Terminal
Port Louis also has a Bulk Sugar terminal which is 210 m long and 12.5 m deep. It handles the sugar imports and also fuel oil.
Port Louis has an oil jetty at Mer Rouge that deals with 1.5 million tonnes of petroleum products every year. These include Gasoline, Ethanol, Gas Oil, Jet Fuel, Fuel Oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas and Molasses.
A separate oil jetty was built as some of these are highly combustible substances and pose significant safety risks. This facility handles Class A petroleum goods which have reduced the risk of accidents in the administrative areas and commercial spaces located near the port. However, only bunkering fuels, classified as Class B products, are allowed to be transported to the commercial facilities inside the main port area.
The oil jetty has a total annual capacity of 4 million tonnes and can handle tankers weighing over 50,000 DWT. It can accommodate goods weighing about 64,000 tonnes at once. 8 oil pipelines link the oil tanks with the jetty.
Port Louis also has the biggest LPG storage tank farm with a capacity of 15,000 million tonnes. The LPG from these tanks is transferred to this oil jetty and from here it is shipped to East Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean.
The port sees bustling commercial activity and was also labelled as the “2016 Best Transshipment Port” in the African region. It also has a window berthing scheme and is also close to the airport and Mauritius freeport zone. It offers feeder services to other ports and wide-ranging marine services too. All these have added to this port’s popularity.
Apart from trade, Port Louis is also crucial for the tourism sector. Mauritius is visited by over 1 million tourists every year, most of whom arrive by cruise vessels to enjoy the warm sea. Port Louis has been equipped with adequate facilities to receive cruise ships as Mauritius aims to become a top-class cruise destination.
A cruise wharf situated at Les Salines has been operational since 2009. Port Louis witnesses a considerable number of cruise ships and has home calls as well as transit calls. Many cruise liners operate seasonally in the Indian Ocean. One such is the Costa Cruises which has a cruise ship visiting Mauritius for five months every year. This ship brought around 35,000 people to Mauritius in 2017.
A cruise line Aida had collaborated with Costa Cruises and planned four journeys in 2018. In the same year, 35 world-renowned cruise liners visited Port Louis carrying around 80,000 tourists.
Figures show that in the coming years, the tourist count would increase as Port Louis continues to develop a growing hospitality sector.
This has not only generated ample revenue for the government but created enormous employment for the locals who can work at cruise ships, catering to the tourists etc. It has promoted local businesses and boosted the inland trade as well.
Port Mathurin is situated on the island of Rodrigues which is part of the island nation. It is 600 km away from Mauritius in the northeast. The island spans 108 km2 with a coastline stretching more than 80 kilometres. It is inhabited by 42,000 people.
The people of this island depend on crop farming, tourism, livestock rearing, fishing and handicrafts to sustain themselves.
Rodrigues island is dependent on Mauritius for its day-to-day supplies. An inter-island trade is carried by cargo ships regularly. A ship called Mauritius Trochetia owned by the Mauritius Shipping Corporation Limited transports both goods and passengers between the two islands. Another vessel of the company called Anna transports containers to Port Mathurin.
Port Mathurin has a 1200 m long and 120 m broad navigation channel. It offers navigation services during the day. It also has a 210 m wide turning basin and its dock measures 175 meters.
The Port Mathurin spans 2.5 hectares and has space for storing containers. It has three reach stackers and a few reefer points. Huge forklifts with a capacity of 26 to 32 tonnes are used to lift bulk containers. There are also yard trucks, trailers and spreaders to move goods in the port area and to load them into trucks for distribution. It has two smaller forklifts with a capacity of 2 and 6 tonnes to transport light cargo.
The port also has a shed for storing grains, which come in bulk from Mauritius. The storage space has a capacity of 600 tonnes and is spread over 875m2. It is also used for storing rice, sugar and flour.
In 1997, a passenger terminal was built which covers 1000 m2. It is used mainly by Mauritius Trochetia for taking people to and from the island of Rodrigues and Mauritius. It is used by other cruise liners as well. Port Mathurin does not allow the entry or exit of cargo ships or cruises at night.
Port Mathurin has a rich history and is a popular tourist destination. Founded by a French colonist, this island offers tourists a fun-filled experience. People can shop at the famous open-air market, or have an adrenaline rush by biking along the rugged coastline. Surfing, fishing and sightseeing are among other popular activities. There are many beaches, resorts and restaurants where people can enjoy Mauritian cuisine and culture.
In recent years, the Mauritian government has invested in this island for promoting tourism. And so the number of tourists has drastically increased by 14% annually. In 2019, about 60,000 people arrived at port Mathurin. However, the government aims to further increase the tourist flow to the port Mathurin as the island can handle about 1,50,000 tourists.
Thus, the high income of this small island nation is accorded to its ports which not only generate revenue through international trade but also tourism. They generate employment for the people of Mauritius and aid in the country’s holistic growth.
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Disclaimer: The authors’ views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Marine Insight. Data and charts, if used, in the article have been sourced from available information and have not been authenticated by any statutory authority. The author and Marine Insight do not claim it to be accurate nor accept any responsibility for the same. The views constitute only the opinions and do not constitute any guidelines or recommendations on any course of action to be followed by the reader.