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No need for more studies on logistics hub – Shirley

Published:Tuesday | January 21, 2014 | 2:40 PM

Richard Browne, Business Reporter

Jamaica already has ample information as it relates to establishing a logistics hub and hence there is little need to wait for more studies to be done, according to Professor Gordon Shirley, chairman and chief executive officer of the Port Authority of Jamaica.

Speaking at the Jamaica logistics hub symposium which opened at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston today, Professor Shirley said “if you look at Jamaica we have done a huge number of studies.”

He said there were “magnitudes of difference” between where Jamaica is now, compared to the three main global logistics nodes of Singapore, Dubai and Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Singapore, for example, has 1,000 ships in its waters at any time.

But he added, “don’t worry about how far ahead they are, eventually we will catch up.”

Professor Shirley said that while Jamaica has several advantages, including location, there are several ports in the region which are also well placed and there is “nothing peculiar about Jamaica.”

As a result, “competition is going to be fierce,” he said, as Jamaica makes its bid to become a logistics hub.

Jamaica also has some weaknesses, including being a “high crime jurisdiction” with perceived corruption. In addition, the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT) is dependent on just two shipping lines and there is the risk of natural hazards, he said.

Development has already started, however. There are four immediate projects, including the need to deepen the shipping channel, signing up an international port operator, implementing a port community system and expand the port and attract new players, Professor Shirley said.

Noting that it “takes too long to get things done,” Professor Shirley said the port community system will address Jamaica’s bureaucratic system. He noted that it can take 14 days of paperwork to import an item in Jamaica, compared to only two days among some of Jamaica’s competitors.

On the privatization of the KCT, there have so far been three large bidders from companies in Singapore, Dubai and China, Professor Shirley said.

There will be many opportunities for Jamaican businesses with the creation of the logistics hub and special economic zones, including support for shipping lines, suppliers and financial services, he said.

More specifically, there would be opportunities for warehousing, stevedoring, trucking, packaging, printing and ship repairs, among others.

There will also be need for increased educational requirements in vocational education, undergraduate education, specialized degrees and research, he said.


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