The Malta Freeport Terminals company has started operating the first seven of fifteen new cranes which will be all in operation by March. Freeport chief executive, Alex Montebello, said the cranes will assist in the reduction of noises and inconveniences to nearby residents. He said the Freeport is investing €31 million to upgrade its operation and efficiency.
The programme of investment includes also the purchase of vehicles for the transport of containers. The biggest investment is in the fifteen cranes, known as RTGs – Rubber Tyred Gantry Cranes – which will increase the Freeport’s efficiency. Mr Montebello added that the high technology cranes offer more safety at work, while they also reduce energy consumption.
An innovative aspect of the cranes is that at sunset they automatically reduce their noise while operating. Mr Montebello said this was done after the company, together with the Government, accepted the Birżebbuġa residents complaints on the great inconvenience caused by the cranes’ alarms.
“The noise generated by the RTG alarm will be far less than the existing one, in respect to the health and safety requirements, which will lead to less inconvenience to the Birżebbuġa locality”.
Asked by TVM what measures will the company take to reduce inconvenience caused by noise of other cranes, Mr Montebello said that adjustments were made in these cranes. “The Freeport already took a decision to carry out retro-fitting of this alarm type even on the existing 50 RTGs which will all be equipped with this type of technology”.
Addressing the media, together with Minister Konrad Mizzi, Mr Montebello stressed that the investment was made due to the increase in work at the Freeport, and also to compete with other freeports. Last year, a record of over 2,200 vessels were handled at the Freeport with more than 3.3 million containers processed at the terminals. In order to meet the demand, he said that the company is planning to enlarge one of its two terminals.
Minister Konrad Mizzi said that the investment will continue to assist the Freeport to be more competitive as a transhipment centre in the Mediterranean. “It is important for the economy because these cranes handle up to six containers above each other, while the European average is four containers. In these way we are stocking containers at a high level so that the footprint is not occupied further and Freeport space will be preserved”.
Minister Mizzi discussed with Freeport management other initiatives by the company to compensate for the residents’ inconvenience. He said that the company is committed, among others, to built a garden and a parking lot for Birżebbuġa residents at an area between the Freeport and Beautiful Bay.