The second-phase expansion of Bahrain’s Khalifa Bin Salman Port, which will double the port’s capacity, is years away, according to Sheikh Daij bin Salman bin Daij al-Khalifa, chairman of the General Organisation of Sea Ports (GOP).

“We are not in a hurry to start developing phase two,” says Sheikh Daij, who would not comment on when GOP had been expecting to develop the second phase.

The first phase of the port expansion, which opened in March, involved moving commercial port operations from the 250,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) Mina Salman port to the new port with 1.1 million TEUs capacity. The second phase will involve expanding capacity at the new port to 2.5 million TEUs.

“I cannot say when we expect to start work on phase two. We are currently at only a quarter of capacity of the new port and the kind of growth levels that we had been expecting are not there at the moment,” says Sheikh Daij. “Even at 10 per cent growth a year, it will take long time before we need the expansion.”

Sheikh Daij says “freight volumes have decreased dramatically and shipping lines are doing their worst in a very long time” because of the economic crisis.