Work on Expansion of Montego Bay Port to Begin This Year

Minister of Housing, Transport, Water and Works, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, has informed that further expansion works would be undertaken at the island’s ports to include the construction of three berths and the addition of a second terminal in Montego Bay later this year, at a cost of US$67 million.
Speaking at a press conference held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel recently, Minister Pickersgill said that the Port Authority has signed off on the new berthing and land-site facilities and construction was slated to begin in the fourth quarter of this year.
Of the berths to be built, he said, “two will accommodate vessels over 1,000 feet in length, while the third berth will handle vessels of a 900 feet category”.
Expansion works would also be undertaken in Ocho Rios, St. Ann in the new financial year, the Minister informed, in order to facilitate the accommodation of the Freedom Cruise Vessels, which were the largest liners now used in the shipping industry.
Port Antonio was also slated to benefit from upgrading works, he said, to accommodate the “next generation of cruise liners, which will carry a complement of 8,000 passengers and are scheduled to begin service in 2009”.
These works are in addition to the continued expansion of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) to maintain the facility’s position as a major international hub port. “Progress being made here is underscored by the improved rating of the KCT from 67 to 55 in the world’s top 100 ports and that is a great achievement,” he highlighted, noting that the port was poised to be listed among the top five hub ports in the world.
He said that phase five expansion works, now in progress, were near completion, and would increase capacity from 1.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to 3.2 million TEUs. The project is being undertaken at a cost of US$240 million.
The project to upgrade the country’s port, the Minister noted, was crucial in meeting the overwhelming demand, which would be inevitable when expansion works began on the Panama Canal.
“The implications for Jamaica are enormous and encouraging; once you open the mega liners for the Panama Canal, because of our strategic location they’ll come to Jamaica.and we have to start making preparations in the port to accommodate those mega liners,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, he indicated that the cruise shipping industry continued to show significant improvements, evident in the number of visitors to the island last year. In 2006, more than 1.32 million cruise ship passengers came to the island, an increase of 206,000 or 18.5 per cent when compared to 2005.
“This increase and demand for Jamaica’s cruise destinations is reflected in the country being voted Leading Caribbean Cruise Destination and the Leading World Cruise Destination at the 2006 World Travel Awards,” he boasted.

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