How Maersk navigated conflict zones and difficult terrain in the African hinterlands to deliver dry and reefer cargo to peacekeeping troops.

Various types of cargo has been brought in by an aviation jet plane for peacekeeping troops.

The customer

Our customer is a frontline agency of the United Nations. It is an integral part of the UN’s conflict management operations and engages with different stakeholders in volatile regions to ensure peace and stability. The customer is guided by the mandates set by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly.

With troops drawn from militaries and police around the world, the customer has been an effective agent of peace and stability, a supporter of political processes, an enforcer of ceasefires, and a protector of millions of civilians around the world.

In Africa, the customer has had a presence since 1960 and has achieved remarkable success in delivering enduring peace.

The requirement

Relief goods, including food and equipment, had to be delivered to conflict zones in countries such as Mali, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. The cargo units were to reach these locations safely and on time.

Africa – A truck carrying cargo is arriving at the unloading point with people standing at the site.

The challenge

Most destinations were in land-locked countries, and in their hinterlands, making the direct transport of goods difficult. The only access to these locations was through neighboring countries.

Border controls are stringent in such areas of strife, and passage of goods require extensive documentation and approvals from local authorities. The roads to such areas also presented challenges, and expertise in such situations was deemed mandatory.

Such operations often involve risk to life and property, and the safe and secure passage of our personnel and the cargo would have to be paramount.

Men unloading a truck containing dry cargo in Africa.

The Maersk solution

Our team in the region ensured all security and procedural protocol was adhered to.

Prior to the operation, a Maersk team inspected the delivery points first-hand to gauge security risks and evaluate the existing road infrastructure.

While most of the shipment comprised equipment and dry cargo, we also deployed reefer containers since food for the troops had to be delivered, across West and East Africa.

The field-level assessments were conducted swiftly, and a tailor-made agile logistics solution for each region was designed in no time at all. For instance, in South Sudan, we had to ensure enough clip-on generator sets for reefer cargo to maintain the food quality.

To avoid costly delays at the borders, we set up a process to ensure that we were ready with compliances and documentation well in advance.

A Maersk truck carrying relief goods like food and equipment to conflict zones in African countries.

The result

We successfully delivered the consignments — over 2,500 TEUs annually — to the beneficiaries.

Maersk’s expertise in Africa and the presence of our own local logistical support teams close to these high-risk locations were major enablers in the success of the operation.

Our smooth handling of the operation in quick time, despite the risky and challenging terrain, was appreciated by the customer, who has since viewed Maersk as a one-stop-shop for all logistics requirements. In subsequent years, the customer has relied on us to deliver similar volumes.

The successful implementation of the operation in high-risk areas can be credited to Maersk’s on-the-ground presence and local expertise in Africa.

Kavitha Lutchman
Head of International Development Cargo, Cape Town

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