x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Rolling up big numbers at Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed

Luxury car brands have reported higher sales this year in the Emirates, driving volumes at the capital's port.

A jump in premium car sales in the UAE has boosted volumes at the capital’s port.

Brands including Mercedes, BMW, Rolls-Royce and Ferrari have all reported higher sales this year amid a return of consumer confidence in the Emirates.

Roll on/roll off (Roro) volumes at Mina Zayed were 18 per cent higher in the first half of this year compared with last year, according to the operator Abu Dhabi Ports Company (ADPC).

Roro volumes increased by 40 per cent last year.

Roro refers to cargo that moves on its own wheels on and off ships including heavy vehicles like tractors and bulldozers as well as cars, vans, buses and trucks.

Last year, 79,906 vehicles rolled through the port, up from 56,510 vehicles in 2011.

This has been driven by increased demand for cars with more than 245,000 sold in the UAE last year – a 25 per cent rise on 2011 figures.

This year Frost & Sullivan projects the number will reach 370,000 vehicles, which would mean an increase of almost 38 per cent.

There were 830,576 vehicles licensed in Abu Dhabi last year, an increase if 175,523 over 2011, according to Abu Dhabi Police figures.

The capacity of Roro vessels, unlike container or general cargo ships, is measured in lane metres. Such a ship will have decks that run its entire length, and in some cases, additional decks that can be lowered or raised. Typically the ship has a stern ramp and a side ramp for loading the thousands of vehicles that can be carried at any time.

The ships can arrive at any time of day or night, and Abu Dhabi Terminals, Zayed Port’s terminal operator, works with the ship’s crew and a stevedoring company to load and unload the vehicles.

When the cars are driven onto the ship for loading, they are parked according to where they need to be unloaded and to ensure an even weight distribution for the ship. The ships have extensive automatic fire control systems and sometimes the vehicle batteries are disconnected as an extra precaution.

The drivers who drive the vehicles on and off the ship have completed skilled driver training to minimise the chance of a vehicle being damaged in transit.

Every car is checked for damage before being driven off the ship and the stevedoring company will have mechanics on hand – to connect any disconnected batteries and to resolve any problems with cars that will not start.

The sight of lots of cars parked at the port is actually a good sign – it means that the port is earning revenue, not just when the ships come in, but also from storing the vehicles safely before they are collected.