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PuertoRicoWOW News Service

Government To File Notice Of Intent On Ports Of The Americas

By Proviana Colon Diaz

August 2, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

PONCE - The government of Puerto Rico will file today with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) the official notice of intent to build the Port of the Americas in the southern tip of the island, Gov. Sila Calderon announced Wednesday.

The filing of the documentation comes less than a month after Calderon meet with USACE personnel in Jacksonville, Fla. and Atlanta, Ga.

"With the filing of these documents we are approaching the day in which we will formally submit the environmental impact statement (EIS)," said Calderon, adding that the EIS document will be ready within the next three months.

The Calderon administration has come under fire from many in the private sector for stalling on the transshipment port investment, originally estimated at more than $1 billion, to be built between Guayanilla and Ponce, proposed under the administration of former Gov. Pedro Rossello.

Calderon made her statements during a Wednesday afternoon press conference at the Ports Authority Ponce regional office following a meeting with the Port of the Americas Board of Directors.

Come September, members of the board will visit several private shipping corporations who have shown interest in investing in the project, the governor said.

"The visits are part of a business plan and an integral part of the product's sale, which will have a series of particular characteristics that will make Puerto Rico the project's winner," Calderon said.

Puerto Rico is not the only country currently competing for the megaport. Cuba, among other countries, is doing likewise.

The delay in the government's efforts regarding the transshipment port has earned it the criticism of Ponce's top official, whose city is involved in the project.

Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago, a member of the board, who has traveled to other mega ports around the world, like Singapore, to learn more about the process, said Wednesday that the delay is not only affecting his municipality but all of Puerto Rico.

"The project, which is for all of Puerto Rico, is running against time," Cordero said.

Also Wednesday Calderon announced the granting of a $2 million credit line from the Government Development Bank (GDB) for the first phase of the mega port which will include the design of rehabilitation plans of piers 4, 5, 6 and 7.

An additional $33 million, needed for the completion of the rehabilitation of the piers will come from private investors or "rent bonuses," Cordero said, adding that the $2 million granted by the Calderon administration is only an "advance."

Rehabilitation of the piers is to take six moths, including the granting of permits which are to be ready by January or February of 2002. Construction will begin in April 2002, Calderon said.

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