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Kingston top choice for port investment

Published:Friday | April 17, 2015 | 4:00 AMChristopher Serju
The Port Authority of Jamaica unveiled four Super Post-Panamax ship-to-shore gantry cranes at Kingston Container Terminal in 2005.

A TOP executive of the consortium which signed a 30-year concession deal for the development, expansion and operation of the Kingston Container Terminal has cited the port's strategic location as a key deciding factors in its decision to undertake the US$660-million project.

"We like Jamaica because there is governance in this country, there is security in this country, and it is a very equitable environment for employees and employers," Farid Salem, president of Terminal Link and executive officer of CMA CGM told Tuesday's signing ceremony at Jamaica House.

The concession agreement was signed between the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and a consortium known as Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited in which Terminal Link has a 40 per cent equity stake and CMA CGM the other 60 per cent. The CMA CGM Group is the world's third-largest container shipping line, operating in 150 countries with 445 vessels making calls at more than 440 ports across all five continents.

 

Strategic location

 

Salem said since the announcement of expansion plans for the Panama Canal, his company had been scouting for a strategic port in the Caribbean, given that the region is a strategic crossroads for shipping.

"We have a very ambitious plan for the development of the Kingston Port. Kingston is an existing facility with a large capacity and a great potential for development which will make Kingston Container Terminal able to handle new business with Terminal Link and CMA."

The expansion and upgrade will be undertaken in two phases with much of the US$460 million spent in the first component of a mega-dredging undertaking involving deepening of the navigational access channel to facilitate the new, much larger 12,000-and-up TEU-capacity liners, up from the current 5,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit). TEU is the standard unit for describing a ship's cargo carrying capacity or a shipping terminal's cargo handling capacity. The upgrade will also include major infrastructural improvements such as construction of a new container terminal consistent with the new level and specifications to bring the facility in sync with the demands of the Panama Canal, as well new berths and other facilities.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com