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Investments Bringing Increased Business To Kingston Container Terminal

Jamaica is reaping dividends from the investments that have been made in the development of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT).

These investments, in dredging and other expansion activities, have enhanced the terminal’s productivity and competitiveness and have attracted new transhipment volumes to Kingston, said President and Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Professor Gordon Shirley.

“Not only have transhipment volumes been increasing but with a newly dredged channel, larger vessels are now being deployed to Kingston in growing numbers by the shipping lines,” he informed.

He noted that the growth has been accelerated throughout the period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Visits are now routinely received from vessels carrying 10 to 15 [thousand], 20-foot equivalent units (TEU) compared to vessels carrying 3.5 thousand TEUs prior to 2016,” he added.

President Shirley was speaking at the recent commissioning and christening of the Port Authority of Jamaica’s Jamaica III utility vessel at Newport East.

Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited (KFTL) assumed responsibility for the management and operation of the KCT on July 1, 2016, with the task to invest, maintain, operate, and grow cargo volumes, and position Kingston as a major transhipment port for the Caribbean and Central America.

The Port Authority has partnered with the KFTL in building out the infrastructure and providing the training needed to meet the growing demands of the maritime sector.

Professor Shirley noted that with the larger vessels entering the Kington Harbour requiring bigger tugboats to assist in the berthing and unberthing process, international tender for the provision of tugboat services for Kingston was issued in 2017.

He said that the competition among the global tug service companies reflected the growing confidence in the Port of Kingston.

Arising from that tender, the PAJ entered into a concession agreement with Ocean Limited, a Canadian tugboat operator, for the provision of tugboat services. The concessionaire has since deployed two new larger boats to service the Kingston Harbour.

He noted that discussions are under way for the deployment of a third tug given the increase in volume of vessels entering the harbour.

Professor Shirley said that new acquisitions and upgrades are constantly being made as the sector grows and develops.

“Kingston has visibly become a busier maritime centre and the trend is growing. To maintain the safe passage of vessels in Kingston and in our other harbours, it is important that our navigational aids, our buoys, beacons, stop marks, and lighthouses are upgraded to incorporate the latest technologies and that they be efficiently maintained. Safety of all the vessels traversing in and out of our harbours is dependent on it,” he said.

He informed that industry-wide training is also being facilitated to equip Jamaicans with the skills and technology to meet industry demands.

“Our marine pilots have upgraded their skills and now are experts at the task of managing the berthing and de-berthing of these mammoth ships. To ensure the safety of the pilots and the pilot boat crew, new pilot boats were acquired, which are equipped with the latest technologies and the new vessels are substantially more efficient and capable than the much older vessels that they replace,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the prudent management of the country’s financial resources has been key in facilitating the necessary investments in the maritime and logistics sector.

“Ten years ago… this country made the decision – not a partisan decision – everybody agreed with this, that we are going to ensure that all our economic decisions are on the basis of fiscal discipline, and now we are reaping the dividends from that national decision around good fiscal management of our public affairs, that we are now able to make capital investments like these,” he noted.

The Port Authority’s state-of-the-art utility vessel, which replaces the 42-year-old Jamaica II, will be used primarily in the maintenance of navigational buoys and beacons in the island’s ports.

Additionally, it will be utilised to carry out upkeep on the two offshore lighthouses – Morant Cays and Pedro Cays – which mark the territorial limits of Jamaica’s sea space and assist with maintenance of other offshore assets.

The Port of Kingston is located on the world’s seventh largest natural harbour. The port is strategically located on the north/south-east/west axis through the Caribbean, approximately 32 miles from the trade routes passing through the Panama Canal.
Source: Jamaica Information Service

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