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Ports Corp completes Lae wharf extension

PAPUA New Guinea Ports Corporation has completed the berth 3 extension project at the country’s largest and busiest port.

The new port facility at Lae will be used for berthing of construction cargo vessels for mining in the Morobe and Highlands areas.

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill officially opened the Lae port overseas wharf extension and commended PNG Ports for their efforts as work continues into the second phase, including the commissioning of the Lae Tidal Basin project.

The wharf was extended by an additional 108m to relieve congestion and to allow efficient ship turnaround times for its largest and busiest port in the country.

Before the berth 3 extension project, there were 55 vessel calls per month. The Ports Corporation said it was assumed a 24% increase in berth length would provide for a 24% increase in vessel calls, or an extra 13 vessels per month.

Ports Corporation CEO Stanley Alphonse said: “The provision of the extra berthing space will reduce the current congestion for container vessel berthing and ship turnaround times.

“The additional berthing space is being provided while the Lae Tidal Basin project is nearing completion.

“The combined overall length of the berths for the overseas wharf, coastal wharf and the tanker berth has now increased from 656m to 764m.”

The new tidal basin port, when completed, will complement the existing Lae port wharves and further reduce ship berthing problems and also reduce the cost of demurrage charges to shipping companies.

Addressing guests, staff and management of PNG Ports Corporation, O’Neill said he was impressed with the new facilities.

“This wharf is going to be the hub of trading activity for the Pacific, as well as Australia and New Zealand, as it can cater for large ships that carry bigger loads and would continue to serve out of this port,” he said.

“It is very important that the second stage of the project is completed as planned so that it can facilitate growing business activities in Lae and many other parts of the country.”

He said the expanded facility would work in with other major projects such as the Wafi Golpu mine and other mining projects that are taking place in the vicinity of the port.

Speaking to Ports Corporation staff and management, the Prime Minister encouraged all people involved with the port expansion to think big and work to continually to increase their efficiency as the port expands.

“You have been given the authority to operate this port according to best commercial practices, and it is up to you to improve your level of service to your customers,” he added.

“I know staff and management will work together to improve services and the efficiency of the facilities to meet the consumer demand.

“We can spend millions of kina on projects like this, but to make it work we have to go beyond old practices and work at world standards.”