Work for rehabilitation has begun at Khor al-Zubair port in Basra province, the General Company for Ports of Iraq announced early March.
The project, financed by a Japanese loan, includes dredging the canal leading to the port to expand and deepen it and remove the submerged wreckage of vessels and ships. Two new docks for mooring ships are under construction, existing docks are under rehabilitation and new yards are being built for loading and offloading containers, Japanese loan commission head Capt. Hussein Mohammed Abdullah stated.
He further mentioned that the port's infrastructure is being reconstructed, including its electricity lines, drinking water networks and public facilities.
The $380 million project is expected to bring in economic returns for Iraq and increase the port's commercial and maritime activity as it will help vessels with large shipments pass easily through the Khor al-Zubair Canal and berth at the port, which will be able to handle larger loads of exported or imported commercial goods, he said.
It is noteworthy that the company had worked on a similar project last year for carrying out developmental works at the Umm Qasr port in Basra province. The project included building that included building specialized vessels.
That project cleared the Umm Qasr Northern Canal of submerged wreckage and dredged and deepened the canal to facilitate the passage of large ships to and from the Arab Gulf, Abdullah said.
Capt. Mazen Khuraibet, technical deputy to the Port Company's general director, said that the Khor al-Zubair port rehabilitation is "one of the important projects within the ports sector in which we are seeking to develop and rehabilitate the port so it can receive and handle huge commercial shipments."
The present project has large-scale dredging at deep depths as well as clearing the Khor Canal of submerged wreckage, rebuilding the port's docks and building new ones, constructing shipment-handling yards, and developing other infrastructure and service facilities
The General Company for Ports of Iraq used the loan for the development of the Umm Qasr Port to "build two dredgers and a crane of a 2000-tonne capacity, three tugboats, a fuel vessel and a diving boat, and we aspire to increase our maritime fleet of those specialized vessels which are used to clean up and deepen navigational canals", Khuraibet said.
The Khor al-Zubair Port rehabilitation project is "a good step towards boosting commercial activity at the ports which would bolster the national economy", said Kamila al-Musawi, who serves on the Iraqi parliamentary committee on reconstruction and services.
All the Iraqi maritime ports need to be developed in order to increase their capacities to handle various commercial shipments, in view of their considerable economic importance. Al-Musawi also called for "speeding up the completion of the Grand Faw Port, which will bring to the country huge benefits in terms of realizing considerable financial returns, and increasing investment in Iraq, as well as enhancing the country's status on the world trade map."