Port Authority investing US$40 million to upgrade Montego Bay Port

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter

Sunday, August 21, 2016

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — The Port Authority of Jamaica will be investing some US$40 million to upgrade the Montego Bay Port to transform the facility into a regional, multi-purpose port which will accommodate more cruise shipping vessels as the demand for home porting rapidly intensifies.


The announcement was made by Dr Horace Chang, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation during a press conference following a tour of the Montego Bay shipping terminal last week.


"The Port Authority intends to invest US$40 million in improving the port. There will be retrofitting of the current facilities. For example, the current cruise ship pier has to be improved significantly to support the traffic we are going to have with home porting. Some of the current warehouse space will also be changed and transformed, while new warehouse space will be acquired," Dr Chang revealed.


"We are expanding the berthing facilities so that we can take three cruise ships at any one time. The demand for home porting is growing and we have to make this required investment.


According to William Tatham, vice president of cruise shipping, for this cruise season, "We will have seven home porting, up from five.


"Next year, we are anticipating nine," Tatham said, adding that two of them will be year-round.


Meanwhile, Dr Chang, who is also Member of Parliament for St James North West, noted that the investment is in addition to the current implementation of the fuel terminal on the port by New Fortress at a cost of US$175 million, "the first of its kind in the Caribbean".


He explained that there will be a dedicated cargo berth which will be called Berth One.


"It will be affiliated with the fuel port so it will be cargo and fuel," Dr Chang said.


"Cargo, of course, will largely be domestic cargo; we are not seeking to convert Montego Bay into a container terminal in any way. While we will be able to unload containers as we expand the port and make it into a modern facility, it will be largely dedicated to domestic cargo. But there is the direct shipping area and, of course, the opportunity by our business personnel to not only import, but to export to other Caribbean islands and in this sense the America region."


In the meantime, although upbeat over the investment, the minister expressed concern over the added traffic congestion that the investment at the port will bring.


"We have a challenge there and the Government is examining that of course because the traffic density on the highway from the airport is extremely high. And therefore, as we expand, we will have to look at how we ensure our traffic system can accommodate the increased economic activity which generates traffic. So we are moving to ensure that we find the funding for perimeter roads around Montego Bay and not just perimeter roads," Dr Chang noted.


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