Corozal and Amador will strengthen Panama’s competitiveness

The start of construction of the Port of Corozal and a pier which will serve the auxiliary maritime industry in the Pacific littoral will give added value to the Panamanian route and will boost Panama’s transformation into the Americas’ logistic platform, local shipping industry sources informed “The Bulletin”.

Also Panama Canal Railway Co. (PCRC), the U.S. railway operator that connects the three ports of the Atlantic with the port of Balboa in the Pacific, has announced that once a concession is awarded for the development and operation of the port of Corozal, that enterprise will begin an ambitious expansion and improvement program.

The PCRC president and CEO, Thomas Kenna, warned (“The Bulletin”, October 19, 2015) that the port of Corozal should have been built three or four years ago and as soon as the concession is given for the development of Corozal, the railway company will begin an ambitious investment plan of more than $75 million to increase its capacity to satisfy future demand and improve the service.

Site of the future port of Corozal.

Site of the future port of Corozal.

The development and operation of the port of Corozal will be awarded in concession to the operator who presents the best offer during the tendering process which will take place on February 3, 2017 at the Canal Administration Building. The companies who are competing for the concession are: APM Terminals B.V., Holland; Terminal Link, France; PSA International Pte., Ltd., de Singapore, and Terminal Investment Limited, S.A., Holland.

After conducting technical studies of feasibility, demand, environmental impact, conceptual design and financial model, the ACP Board of Directors – within the framework of its constitutional and legal authority – authorized the administrator Jorge Quijano to lead the process that will culminate in February with the concession of what will be the first green port in Latin America.

The project has been strongly opposed by the Chinese company Hutchison Port Holdings, whose subsidiary Panama Ports controls the rail connectivity with the ports of the Atlantic. But local and international shipping industry has stated that the port in the Pacific coast has limited capacity, which has forced several shipping companies to move their transhipment operations to other ports in the region.

After highlighting that the construction of the port of Corozal is a priority, if Panama wants to consolidate its role as a regional transshipment and logistic hub, the Panama Shipping Chamber (CMP) president, Rommel Troetsch, warned that Panama only handles 15% of the transshipment cargo in the Latin American Pacific littoral. Troetsch estimates that as soon as the port of Corozal begins operations it will attract 3 million transshipment containers. The first phase should be ready in 2019 and will have the capacity to handle three million containers; the second phase could be ready and in operation in 2025, adding an additional 2 million teus.

According to the CMP president, Corozal is not only necessary from now on, but in about 10 years Panama will have to build an additional transshipment port to meet the growing demand on the Pacific coast, to take advantage of the connectivity it has in comparison with other alternatives terminals.

A pier for auxiliary industry

Another project that will have a great impact in strengthening the role of Panama as a logistics and transshipment center is the dock that the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) will build in 2017 to support more than 200 companies engaged in auxiliary maritime services. These range from victualling, bunker supplies and ship repairs to changing crews.

The contract for the construction of the wharf was awarded to the Inzelva Maritime Consortium, which proposed to execute the work at a cost of $4.7 million. It consists of a T-shaped mixed dock capable of simultaneously receiving two 150-foot ships and two 50-foot craft, an office building, warehouses, cold rooms, cafeteria, public toilets and a crane with a capacity of 5 tons and a reach of 18 meters.

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