JIS News

The Port Authority of Jamaica has acquired four new ship-to-shore gantry cranes valued at US$23 million, to improve efficiency at the island’s main port in Kingston. The cranes, which were made in China, arrived in the island on Tuesday (Jan.11) and should become operational in the next eight weeks.
Minister of Transport and Works, Robert Pickersgill and Noel Hylton, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority, were present at the Kingston Container Terminal to witness the arrival of the ship carrying the cranes from China. The additional equipment brings the total number of cranes at the port to 13.
Mr. Pickersgill said that the acquisition of the cranes was expected to increase productivity at Kingston Terminal and enable Jamaica to maintain its competitive edge as one of the leading transshipment ports in the region.
“It is a US$23 million well spent. This is an expensive business. It is a business that demands a lot of forward planning. We have been blessed geographically with the position of our ports and we have to exploit that as best as we can and to maintain that competitive edge, it means planning and it means money,” he informed JIS News.
Informing that Jamaica did business with the number five shipping company in the world, he said, “that is the kind of clientele you have to attract.”
“These people, really, at the end of the day, judge you in terms of the turnaround time. If they come here and they have to linger for any reason whatsoever you are a notch or two down below in terms of what they are looking for,” the Minister pointed out.
He noted that the acquisition of the cranes was part of the ongoing process of upgrading at the port and informed that more would be added during the fifth stage of development.
In his remarks, Mr. Hylton said the new cranes would provide more capacity at the port for working ships and improve the ability to accommodate large vessels.He informed that the new cranes were faster than the existing ones and could perform about 40 to 45 container moves per hour depending on the size of the vessel. “Over there (the old ones) they are doing between 30-35 moves, but it all depends on the size of the vessel,” Mr. Hylton said.
Justifying the need for the new cranes, he informed that two additional lines were expected in the island later this year and “our forecast is that we are going to have even more ships coming into Jamaica.”
He noted that with the addition of the equipment, Jamaica could continue to promote the port as it means that, “we can handle more ships and be able to make more profit.” “I do not think that there are any ports in this region, which boast 13 ship-to-shore gantry cranes,” Mr. Hylton bragged.
The Port Authority head said further, that Jamaica had the advantage of having one of the most modern ports in the region with all the equipment being at world class standard. “We have one of the best workforce ever in any port. We have not had a strike or work stoppage in 30 years and I am extremely proud of the workforce,” he stated.
Turning to the upcoming Chinese-Caribbean Trade Forum and Fair, which is slated for Kingston, Mr. Hylton said, “we hope that the Chinese will use Kingston as a distribution point. We are hoping that is what we will get out of the trade fair.”
Meanwhile, on the subject of the delays experienced at the ports last year, Minister Pickersgill said, “this business is a capacity business and you can’t increase capacity overnight. What it means is that there must be serious forward planning but recall what happened with Ivan.something happened that nobody really catered for .a lot of Caribbean ports were not fully operational for a long time,” he said.
He noted however, that Jamaica’s ports were back in business 36 hours after Hurricane Ivan and dealing with the late arrivals, including the handling of containers, which were diverted to the island. Of the 74,000 containers passing through the ports in October only 81 were diverted.

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