Mon | Jul 22, 2019

Kingston Wharves still lobbying for full SEZ status

Published:Friday | June 21, 2019 | 12:39 AM
CEO of Kingston Wharves Grantley Stephenson.

Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) said it continues to lobby the Government for full special economic zone or SEZ status, noting that the journey has been slow but that progress has been made.

The port company expects the process to be completed this year.

KWL has obtained partial SEZ designation. CEO of KWL Grantley Stephenson pointed out earlier this year that the rate of return on its investments was being significantly hampered by Government’s failure to grant SEZ designation to its entire operations at Newport West, Kingston, where it operates the Caribbean’s leading multipurpose terminal.

Kingston Wharves, which held its annual general meeting on Thursday, said it expects to break ground for the construction of its near-port logistics facility at Ashenheim Road in Kingston in the fourth quarter of this year as well as begin the rebuilding of berth three as part of its expansion plans.

It has also committed $100 million in support of a drainage-improvement project at Newport West, a much-needed compliment to the Government’s extensive roadwork now under way.

Stephenson told the Financial Gleaner that the contractor should start working on the improvement works to the drain in another week or two.

He said that the works would extend from Newport West to the sea and would not include the area near the Tinson Pen aerodrome on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, which was extensively flooded, causing traffic gridlock across the city in October, last year.

The near-port facility will add over 300,000 square feet of warehouse space to Kingston Wharves’ facilities.

“Our value proposition surrounding the operation will be further bolstered with the area being designated a special economic zone, which is close to being realised,” the port executive said.

Following the completion of berth three, attention will turn to upgrading works on two other berths, said Stephenson at the meeting held at the new AC Hotel in New Kingston.

Revenue generated by the company’s terminal operation for the first quarter ending March was $1.35 billion, or 10 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2018, while divisional operating profit increased by 37 per cent from $385 million to $527.8 million year on year, said Stephenson.

The logistics division generated revenue of $478 million, an increase of 21 per cent over the corresponding period in 2018, while operating profit grew by 78 per cent.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com