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Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman has disclosed that Cabinet has given the go-ahead to award a contract valued at $67 million (US$1.09 million) to a Belgium company, JAN DE NUL, to dredge the dock at Petrojam.
Speaking at the weekly post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday (May 30), the Information Minister said the contract has been approved by the National Contracts Commission, and is to be fully funded by Petrojam.
He explained that the dredging was necessary “because there is a certain depth for the vessels, which bring the fuel into Jamaica that has to be maintained. At the moment, it is necessary to ensure that the depth is reached.”
In order to properly accommodate these petroleum-carrying vessels, the Petrojam Pier, the approach tunnel and turning basin, is required to be at least one metre deeper than the vessel. A hydrographic survey commissioned by the Port Authority of Jamaica in July 2004 found that several areas adjacent to the Petrojam dock did not satisfy this requirement.
According to Mr. Whiteman, the Commerce, Science and Technology Ministry had lobbied for the dredging work to commence ahead of the hurricane season. This, he said, was because of the change in the pattern of the Kingston Harbour as a result of the silting caused by Hurricane Ivan last year.
Approximately 162, 000 cubic metres of silt will be removed from areas surrounding the Petrojam pier and deposited 25 kilometres offshore from the dredged area. According to the Minister, “the environmental conditions have been met, and (the work) will not affect the Kingston Harbour.”