KINGSTON – The Port Authority of Jamaica is looking to carry out expansion work at the Port of Kingston to ensure that the facility is adequately equipped to handle an anticipated increase in calls by mega container vessels.
President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority, Noel Hylton,said that the number of “ultra large” carriers on the seas is expected to increase from 39 to 149 by 2014, and Jamaica must be in a position to accommodate these vessels.
“These ships will certainly have a tremendous impact on world trade and of course, on ports. What is quite evident is that only a few ports will be able to accommodate these mega ships,” he said at a Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) Board of Directors forum held on March 15 at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
In order to ensure that the country will be able to handle these mega container vessels, Mr. Hylton informed that the Port Authority plans to dredge the channel and turning basin to approximately 16 metres; expand the port into Fort Agusta to provide additional berthing of 1,500 metres; and develop173 acres of yard space and value-added logistics. The PAJ President pointed out that the works will cost approximately US$200 million.
He said that the development works at the Port of Kingston will also place the country in a position to capitalise on the increase in container vessels to the region when the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed.
“The prognosis is that on completion of the Panama Canal expansion, the Caribbean will likely be one of the greatest beneficiaries as it is expected that there will be a marked increase in the number of transshipment cargoes traversing the region, which no doubt will result in more cargoes being handled in Caribbean ports,” he said.
Mr. Hylton said that all major shipping lines are now planning their schedules for 2014, and are already making bookings with hub ports worldwide. He informed that the PAJ is “in the process of negotiating contracts with three major shipping lines, which are considered three of the largest in the world, with projected volume of three million Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) for this region by 2014/2015”.
Citing forecast of an average annual growth of seven to eight per cent in the international shipping industry, he said that “based on these projections, we estimate that by 2015, the Port of Kingston will grow from the present 1.7 million TEUs of cargo per annum to approximately four million TEUs per annum”.
CONTACT: ALECIA SMITH