Central American ports must adapt to new shipping demands

The shipping world demands port efficiency, due to the need to load and unload large numbers of containers in a short time. The expansion of the Panama Canal has led to the construction of larger vessels with more capacity. However, the economic crisis of 2009 and the fall of freight volumes by half, explained Ricardo Cruz, chairman of the transport and logistics committee of the El Salvador Chamber of Commerce (Camarasal).

Port Quetzal.

Port Quetzal.

At present there are three major shipping alliances in the world. “And waiting times at the ports are the concern as the shipping companies are increasing the size of container vessels that forces them to keep their ships moving quickly,” the official said.

According to Cruz, the larger the vessel, the higher the yields in the ports should be in order to maintain time to get from point A to point B.

In Central America, some terminals are receiving a significant injection of resources to meet the future demand. The first phase of expansion of the terminal operated by Central American Port Operator, in Honduras, includes the construction of an additional 350 meters of dock, the acquisition of two Super Post-Panamax cranes and a draft of -14 meters.

In Guatemala, the container terminal at Quetzal, on the Pacific, run by APM Terminals, started operations with 22,000 TEUs over three months. The terminal can handle ships of up to 9,200 TEUs, with an initial capacity of 340,000 TEUs per year. The depth of its channel is -14.5 meters.

In El Salvador, the port of Acajutla will acquire mobile cranes and renovate yard cranes. With regard to the port of La Union, they prepare a reform to the Law of Concession of the Port of La Union and another to the Law on Integral Port Services, so that the concession is not only for the first phase.

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