Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev launched the country’s first roll-on/roll-off (Ro-Ro) cargo terminal on Tuesday, at the Baku International Sea Trade Port in the Alat trade and industrial area, as part of efforts to boost the country’s regional transportation and global logistics capabilities.
President Ilham Aliyev inaugurated the terminal’s opening, according to a press release posted to the president’s official website. The terminal is capable of receiving up to 60,000 cargo trucks and 1.8 million tons of freight annually.
Roll-on, roll-off facilities can accommodate ships designed to carry wheeled cargo, including automobiles, trucks, semi-trailer trucks, trailers, and railroad cars, which are driven on and off a ship on their own wheels or using a platform vehicle RORO (also abbreviated “Ro-Ro”) is in contrast to lift-on, lift-off, or “LoLo,” which require a crane to be moved.
The new Ro-Ro terminal is considered an integral part of launching the first phase of the larger Baku International Sea Trade Port complex, known also as the Port of Baku.
The trade port is being constructed in three phases. Two bridges for Ro-Ro vessels, seven bridges for universal freight and container terminals, two ferry bridges and one bridge for servicing fleet ships are all being built within the first phase. Eleven smaller vessels will be able to anchor simultaneously at the service bridge for fleet ships.
The Port of Baku is a state-of-the-art seaport complex about 70 kilometers (43 miles) located south of Azerbaijan’s capital city. International terminal operators and logistics companies, including the U.A.E.-based DP World and the Dutch company APM Terminals, are advising on operations and technical systems at the complex.
As one of five countries surrounding the Caspian Sea and at the heart of the South Caucasus, Azerbaijan stands at the juncture of major air, sea, rail and road routes within Eurasia, including the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route (TITR), the North-South and East-West routes, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway.
As China moves ahead with constructing its One Belt One Road (OBOR) mega-project, connecting trade networks across the globe and bridge East and West more efficiently, officials in Baku are sparing no effort to transform Azerbaijan into the premier transportation hub in the Caspian region. Incorporating the sea port into OBOR is expected to put the Port of Baku on par with Jebel Ali port in Dubai, as it connects markets between Asia and Europe.
The new port also serves as a hub for the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railway that runs throughout the south Caucasus. Stretching from Azerbaijan to Turkey, the BTK railway is part of TITR and moves cargo between Asia and Europe. The railway opened in October, and reduced transportation time from about 25-30 days down to 12-15 days.