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Port not ready for post-Panamax vessels

Published:Wednesday | January 20, 2016 | 1:00 AM
Dr Omar Davies

The port of Kingston will not be able to accommodate post-Panamax vessels within the next two years.

Dr Omar Davies, who has ministerial responsibility for the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT), said in Parliament last week that Terminal Link, the subsidiary of CMA/CGM which is to take over the KCT, has indicated that there is no urgent need to dredge the harbour in anticipation of post-Panamax ships arriving.

The new post-Panamax ultra-large vessels have been designed to travel through the expanded Panama Canal.

The post-Panamax vessels can carry up to three times the cargo of Panamax vessels.

"Their plans to utilise post-Panamax vessels is further down the line and so the first phase of the dredging, (which) is going to take place over 24 months, will be adequate to meet their additional needs," Davies said.

He also told legislators that CMA/CGM will be switching some of their ships from other ports in the Caribbean to Kingston, thus boosting their throughput into Kingston.

ZIM and CMA/CGM collectively account for between 75 per cent - 80 per cent of throughput into Kingston.

Davies said he has spoken with CMA/CGM about whether the dredging is late and has been told that the layman does not have an understanding of the way in which shipping lines switch the use of vessels for various ports.

The Government and CMA/CGM signed a 30-year concession agreement last April to finance, expand, operate, maintain, and transfer the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT).

Davies, by way of a statement to Parliament, said the necessary documentation and other legal requirements were currently being put in place, and financial closure was expected to take place by the end of March, with handover of the facility taking place simultaneously.

The minister said works would commence immediately after handover, and would include dredging of the access channel and basin to accommodate vessels with draught of 14.2 metres.

He said the works will also include the rehabilitation of 1,200 metres of sheet piles on the South Terminal to facilitate additional deepening of the berth, and strengthening of the piles, to be consistent with international codes.

"The overall construction is scheduled to be completed within 24 months and will be phased such that trans-shipment operations at the port are maintained throughout the construction period," Davies said.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com