Maritime sector widens its horizons
These are exciting times for Jamaica. After many years of sluggish development, missed opportunities, political upheavals and the feeling among many Jamaicans that better opportunities lay elsewhere, there is now a real sense of optimism.
This is particularly true in the maritime sector, where Jamaica really has got its skates on lately. The government has given its backing to a Logistics Hub Initiative (LHI), and the island is fully capitalising on its natural advantages in terms of its location, with new benefits accruing from the enlarged Panama Canal.
Across the maritime sector, there seems to be a positive story to tell:
- Jamaica enjoyed a record number of cruise passengers in 2016.
- Bunker sales are on the up.
- The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) is upgrading secondary facilities.
- A new shipyard is planned for Kingston.
- Sites for logistics hubs have been identified.
- The first liquefied natural gas shipment has arrived and work on a new gas terminal is under way.
- The ship registry continues to grow in stature.
- Alumina exports have resumed from some ports.
This is all unalloyed good news. But it is perhaps the LHI that is most germane to the government's growth strategy. Its bold aim is to become the logistics hub of the Americas, emulating the likes of Dubai and Singapore.
The first 42-acre logistics base and free zone has been created in Spanish Town. A second is in the offing and is likely to be an air cargo hub at the former United States air base at Vernam Field.
Then there's the PAJ, which has hived off Kingston Container Terminal to Terminal Link, a subsidiary of the French operator CMA CGM. At the same time, Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) continues to pick up awards and demonstrate that there is still room in this world for a truly multipurpose terminal operation.
And it was Grantley Stephenson, KWL's chief executive and immediate past president of the Caribbean Shipping Association, who distilled Jamaica's tremendous potential in just one sentence. He said last year: "Jamaica has one of the most strategic locations anywhere, comparable perhaps only to Singapore."
And, of course, he is right.
Article carried in Caribbean Maritime magazine and reproduced courtesy of Land & Marine Publications.