Abnormal transport in west Africa

08 September 2020

Fracht France, the French division of Swiss freight specialist Fracht, commissioned Netherlands-headquartered heavy lifting and transport specialist Mammoet to transport components for a thermal power plant project in west Africa.

The components were transported 1,400 km from the Port of Takoradi in Ghana to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, where they are being used on the Kossodo thermal power plant project. Once completed, Kossodo power plant aims to increase national generation capacity by almost 20 percent.

The components included three 325 tonne engines made by Germany-headquartered MAN Energy Solutions, three 59 tonne generators, two 80 tonne transformers and three 16 tonne turbo chargers, with each ranging in length up to 13 metres, in height up to 6.6 metres and in width up to 6 metres.

According to Mammoet, cargo of this size and weight had never previously been transported over such a long distance in West Africa, as the local infrastructure was not built to handle it. 

Mammoet carried out several route surveys to find the most appropriate transport route. Challenges along the route included potholed roads and several structurally deficient bridges. The total transport height of around eight metres meant Mammoet had to lift more than 1,000 overhead power lines during the transport, in both Ghana and Burkina Faso. Mammoet worked with the Ghana Highway Authority, the police and the Electricity Company of Ghana to make the required road modifications and bridge reinforcements in advance. To ensure there were no problems during the operation, the team planned ahead and test-drove its entire length prior to the actual transport to confirm it was free of any previously unobserved obstacles.

The coronavirus pandemic provided an additional challenge, said Mammoet, as both countries closed their borders, affecting mobilisation of the crew and threatening the entire operation. To ensure continuity of the project, with the support of Fracht France, its branch in Burkina Faso, and the plant owner Sonabel, Mammoet mobilised the crew using a private charter flight and handled all required transport permits from the different government authorities.

The cargo arrived at the Kossodo project site ready for further installation using Mammoet jacking and skidding systems.

“This was one of the first projects in Africa where Mammoet and former ALE combined forces, just after the integration. Right from the start we worked as one team, facing challenges and solving them on the spot, as the crew was committed to deliver the critical cargo safely and within the timeframes set by the client,” commented William Soeters, project manager at Mammoet.


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