Dubai-based ports and logistics giant DP World has launched a new ro-ro service linking Jebel Ali port in the UAE with Umm Qasr Port in southern Iraq.

The service, which operates under the banner of P&O Maritime Transports, is being billed as the “first service of its kind” as it caters exclusively to unaccompanied trailers that are transported without an accompanying driver and truck cab.

The company is billing the service as the fastest, most sustainable option to get trucked freight into Iraq as it predicts the service will remove thousands of trucks from the roads every year, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

Trucks travelling overland from the UAE to Iraq can take up to two weeks to complete the journey, but DP World says its service cuts the journey down to approximately 36 hours.

Jesper Kristensen, DP World Marine Services group chief operating officer described the launch of this new service is a “step change” in the company’s service offering in the UAE.

“Iraq’s economy is growing rapidly, but until now it relied on transit through its neighbours for its import and export needs. Our new direct service starts to address this, opening a new more efficient trade route for the country,” he said.

The service was described as being especially useful for transporting palletised or project cargo, large, heavy duty, or complex pieces of equipment, due to the greater payload capacity of road-going trailers. Ro-ro vessels provide greater flexibility in the planning and movement of over-dimensional packages on low-bed and heavy-axle trailers.

While a roro link between Dubai’s Port Rashid and Iraq has been operating for the past two decades, DP World has negotiated a special agreement with Iraqi authorities to allow UAE-plated trailers to be used for final delivery to Baghdad and other inland Iraqi locations. This avoids the need to transship goods into Iraqi-plated trailers upon arrival in Umm Qasr.

DP World said this generates significant cost savings versus traditional break bulk operations, as the cargo loaded on board a trailer is available to be delivered directly on site.

The company said it will source vessel capacity depending on client and cargo requirements.

“This new model of transporting cargo to Iraq focuses on developing flexibility for regional supply chains, the overall product construct is based on fulfilling this key requirement,” it said.