US$150 million expansion project to boost port competition in the region
A hefty US$150 million has been earmarked by Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited (KFTL) to significantly boost the container capacity at the port and to increase the maximum boat size able to access Port Bustamante by way of deepening the channel and bay through dredging.
The Kingston Container Terminal expansion project is scheduled for completion in December 2018, with the total dredging, which spans Port Bustamante to Port Royal, to be finished in June.
"This project is critical. It's about competition with other ports in the region and we need to be able to accommodate the larger, new Panamax vessels going through the new navigation locks of the Panama Canal. Most of the work is to deepen the existing channel that represents seven million cubic metres of dredged material that is removed and dumped offshore at a selected site," said Olivier Tretout, chief executive officer of KFTL.
Tretout also said the project would generate in the region of 300 to 400 direct jobs for Jamaica through various contractors, while adding that KFTL has recruited and trained in excess of 100 employees since July 2016, with another 100 to follow.
In addition to targeting depths between -18.5m for the access channel and -15.85m for the port, KFTL will be refurbishing the facility with state-of-the-art cranes, as well as the erection of a new quay wall, 1.3km in length.
Chris Baert, project manager of SODRACO, the company contracted for the dredging, said the project was vital for both the economy and movement of containers.
"All major ports in the Caribbean are expanding because they're expecting bigger vessels. The difficult part with the dredging is cleaning up, but we haven't experienced any problems. The pump we are using is the biggest dredge pump in the industry. In an hour, we removed 14,000 cubic metres of mixture for the upper capacity," shared Baert.
Horace Chang, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, emphasised that all other agencies of government would be aligned to ensure the project would be an overall success.
"Trading is the way to go for a small island state, and this is something that will take advantage of our geographical location," he said.