PAJ details possible alternative to sole bidder for dredging project
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
The Head of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley, says the entity plans to directly engage major firms to dredge the access channels to the Kingston Container Terminal should the sole bidder on the project found to be unacceptable.
The access channel is to be dredged to 17 metres and its turning basin widened to accommodate mega ships which will traverse the Panama Canal.
The projected cost of the dredging is US$160 million, but with the government deciding not to guarantee any loan for the PAJ, the company is to invite concessionaires to do the dredging.
"In going out to tender, the request was made of those who were shortlisted that they would undertake the dredging, even though the dredging is normally the responsibility of the land lord, which is the Port Authority," Shirley said.
The evaluation is to be completed this month after which the PAJ will determine whether the offer of the single bidder will be accepted.
Shirley who was addressing Tuesday’s sitting of the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament said the PAJ has a back up plan.
"We have been in contact with all of the global dredging firms who have all expressed an interest in the project, and so even if the tender process is not completed, we think that we will be in a process to begin dredging in 2015," Shirley said.
Meanwhile, the evaluation of bids for the privatisation of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) is expected to be completed this month in time for Transport, Works and Housing Minister Dr Omar Davies to be informed of the outcome by early October.
Three entities – Ports of Singapore International, Terminal Link Consortium and Dubai Port World – have pre-qualified as entities to run the KCT.
The Government is seeking to privatise the KCT to allow for the expansion of and development of the terminal as Jamaica seeks to capitalize on shipping activities which are anticipated with an expanded Panama Canal.
Jamaica is seeking to position itself as a logistics hub and the government has said the KCT’s privatization and the dredging of the Kingston access channel are integral to the process.
But committee member, Mike Henry, expressed discomfort with the pace at which the project is progressing.
"Even the United States that had no ports to accept traffic when the Panama Canal is open, whose bridges were too low at the time, whose bridges need opening... the tunnel being built from Miami to go into the other parts of the United States means that our opportunities are fast receding," Henry lamented.
As Jamaica seeks to capatilise on the expansion of the Panama Canal, shipping lines could get the option of another shipping channel between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans by way of Nicaragua.
This, Henry said, could be bad news for Jamaica.
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