PAJ VP talks development projects at island's key ports

PAJ VP talks development projects at island's key ports

Thursday, August 15, 2019

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THE Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) is undertaking development projects at key ports with the aim of facilitating growth within the country's cruise industry.

Works are being done in Montego Bay, St James; Ocho Rios, St Ann; and Falmouth, Trelawny.

In Montego Bay, the berth space at the port is being upgraded to accommodate larger cruise vessels.

“We will be upgrading berth two,” vice-president of Cruise Shipping and Marina Operations at the PAJ, William Tatham, tells JIS News.

“Berth one has already been completed and we going to be putting in fenders (to protect against damage when the vessel berths alongside the pier), and we are going to be upgrading that entire berth space so we will be able to take the next generation of Carnival Corporation ships, which is the XL Class,” he adds.

He notes that in the next financial year, the PAJ will be looking at building a new cargo terminal and converting the existing facility into a cruise terminal.

“So we will have two fully dedicated cruise terminals in Montego Bay,” Tatham says.

He tells JIS News that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Montego Bay has made the port more attractive to cruise lines.

“The next generation of cruise ships are LNG-powered. The cruise industry, traditionally, has been powered by diesel, but they have been looking to try and find a way to utilise much cleaner fuel, and LNG has turned out to be the solution,” Tatham says.

“MSC [Cruise Line] and Carnival Corporation have all ordered a number of LNG-powered vessels and fortunately, we will be able to fuel those ships here in Jamaica. So that adds value to us,” he states.

Tatham notes that the upgrading of the port, coupled with the LNG facility, has created an opportunity for more cruise companies to home port in Montego Bay.

“We do home port a number of vessels that take on fuel, air, water, provisions, and so on. So if one of those next generation of vessels wants to home port in Montego Bay, we'll be able to refuel them as well, so that's good,” he says.

Turning to the Falmouth port, the PAJ vice-president tells JIS News that at the end of 2018, the southern berth was dredged to accommodate Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class vessels.

“So both berths in Falmouth can accommodate the largest ships in the world,” he notes.

Tatham says that the PAJ has undertaken other projects in Falmouth aimed at positioning the town as a prime cruise destination, including building two small craft markets across from the cruise terminal.

“We had a number of vendors in and around the town in kind of temporary types of shelter so what we did was build them a home, so to speak,” he notes.

He further cites the Hampden Wharf Development Project, which is a joint venture with the Ministry of Tourism, through the Tourism Enhancement Fund. He says that the project “should be ready by the end of this year”.

The US$5.7-million development will comprise 47 shops, five restaurants and bars, 12 mini stalls, 12 major shops, and activities for children.

A key feature will be the establishment of the island's first artisan village, an initiative being driven by the Tourism Product Development Company, which will accommodate 18 shops along 540 square metres.

“So it's more than just a craft trading situation. This will be an artisan village with the artists, painters, the sculptors, the carvers. So we will be able to actually see them at work and buy their unique, one-off products,” Tatham points out.

Turning to Ocho Rios, Tatham tells JIS News that work was completed on the marine wharf at Reynolds Pier, which is now able to accommodate the much larger vessels that have been calling at the port.

Additionally, a promenade will be built along the waterfront to connect the pier with the town of Ocho Rios, thereby enabling pedestrian movement along that area.

“Eventually, there will be two promenades, one that will run along the seafront and one that will run along the roadside. The roadside one, that will be the first one that will be ready for this season,” Tatham says.

He notes that the PAJ has invested in other projects in Ocho Rios, including the fishing village that was completed in 2018.

“What we have developed is a home for the fisherfolk… where they have a number of shops and there are a number of restaurants down there. The fishermen can bring their fish ashore, where it can be cleaned and sold to the restaurants that are there. It's a very popular location for locals and tourists alike,” he says.

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