Aqaba Container Terminal, the world’s gateway to Jordan and beyond, continued to build on its record of success with its accomplishments in 2011. The year witnessed new records in productivity and business development, close engagement with the local community.
The year began with the appointment of Soren Hansen – an experienced executive with ACT’s parent company, APM terminals – as CEO. At APM Terminals, Hansen had gained valuable experience in leadership including driving change through organizations. This experience proved critical at ACT, where Hansen was able to add his own unique perspective on how to maximize the vast potential of the port. The position proved to be a comfortable fit for both Hansen and ACT; productivity in terms of throughput volume increased 16.5% for the year, with total growth of in-transit cargo increasing 62.6%.
Other figures confirmed the positive direction of the port; the year ended with total growth of 16.5%, export growth of 13.6%, import growth of 19.1%, and reefer growth of 17.9%. ACT’s expanded role as a regional transportation hub is partly responsible for the positive growth figures. With the amount of Iraq-bound cargo increasing, as well as the processing of cargo for the Saudi market for the first time, the port is looking to take a larger regional role in the transportation industry. This has positive implications for both the port and Jordan’s national economy as the ground-transportation industry expands to accommodate the rising needs.
These successes – along with the remaining challenges and future goals - were documented in the publication of ACT’s first sustainability report, entitled “Developing the Most Sustainable Gateway to Jordan and Beyond.” Based on the United Nations Global Compact, the report covers five key areas; promoting efficient and innovative operations at the terminal, developing a safe work environment for employees, community investment and development, mitigating damage to the surrounding environment, and promoting transparency, accountability and financial sustainability at the terminal. ACT has emphasized that only by considering a range of issues – from employee professional development to preserving Aqaba’s marine ecosystem – can the terminal fulfill its potential and serve Jordan and the region for generations to come.
ACT’s relationship with the local community and the environment were important areas examined by the report. In 2011, ACT continued its Greening Campaign to mark its celebration of Earth Day. The day’s celebrations involved the planting of 150 trees within ACT’s facilities in order to contribute to reducing the impact of the CO2 emissions by the port’s heavy machinery.
In the area of community engagement, ACT established a partnership with Jordan’s Business Development Center in order to provide high-level training and potential employment opportunities to members of the local community. With the goal of facilitating youth career development in the Aqaba governorate, ACT began hosting specialized training course in 2011 for recent college` graduates. With expert instructors and a fully developed curriculum, the course gives young Jordanian men and women the opportunity to receive first-class training from a leading international company.
Throughout 2011, ACT has considered community responsibility to be an integral part of its character. In April ACT held a free medical day in al-Rahma and Qatar, two villages in the Wadi Araba province. During the visit free medical tests, consultations, and medicine packages were provided to the residents of both villages. Ramadan marked the launch of ACT’s Ahl al-Khair (People of Charity) initiative, involving the delivery of staple food packages to underprivileged families throughout the holy month. The campaign was not limited to Aqaba, extending to include the neighboring communities of al-Rahma, Qatar, Tweiseh, and Qureiqera. .
ACT’s celebration of Independence Day at the King Abdullah II School for Excellence in June highlighted another facet of its corporate social responsibility strategy; the company’s support for local secondary schools. ACT sponsors two schools as part of Her Majesty Queen Rania’s Madrasati initiative – the Shamilah School for Girls and the Saffiyah Bint Abdul Mutaleb School – reflecting ACT’s active support for providing a healthy educational environment in schools where students can thrive and achieve their full potential.
In 2011 ACT’s commitment to the local community was matched by its dedication to its employees and their safety. In October, ACT held its annual Safety Day event, with the opening ceremony including speeches from the Minister of Labor, APM Terminals representative Peter Jakobsen, and ACT CEO Soren Hansen. ACT’s commitment to the safety of its employees and business partners is reflected in its intensive training programs, comprehensive Health Safety Security Environment (HSSE) plan, and excellent safety record. In 2011, lost-time injuries reached a record low of 1.52 LTIFR.
The day of safety awareness included a spillage drill for Bromine - a toxic chemical in liquid form - conducted with assistance from the Civil Defence department and the Jordanian Bromine Company. The day’s program also involved engaging truck drivers who play a large role in ACT’s operations. ACT officials have pushed government and private sector stakeholders to provide safety education for truck drivers with the goal of decreasing the chance of life-threatening accidents.
ACT was not only engaged with local stakeholders in 2011, but also with regional shipping stakeholders. This was demonstrated most visibly in September, when ACT participated in the TOC Container Supply Chain 2011 conference held at the Dubai International Exhibition Center. The conference brought together regional leaders in the transportation and shipping industry to discuss future growth prospects and opportunities for cooperation. ACT was represented at the event by Richard Davidsen, Chief Commercial Officer. Davidsen gave a presentation on maritime transport and shipping prospects for the Levant and Iraq. He also addressed the importance of Jordan’s strategic position as a major gateway for Jordan and other landlocked areas of the Levant and Arabian Peninsula.
Despite the current global economic downturn, ACT is looking at a bright future and high expectations for 2012. Planning is currently underway to improve upon the high-level of customer satisfaction achieved in 2011, with client services being upgraded and expanded. Forecasted growth for 2012 is in the double digits, with a strategy in place to cultivate further growth through the ongoing port expansion project.
ACT is a joint venture between the Aqaba Development Corporation (ADC) and APM Terminals — the leading global provider of advanced logistical services — operating via a 25-year build-operate-transfer agreement signed in 2006. The terminal constitutes the logistical and economic backbone of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), serving as the preferred gateway to the region for many active markets around the world. Over the years, the terminal has been a shining example of a large-scale establishment operating under a progressive leadership with an uncompromising dedication to sustainable growth.