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Transshipment Port Futher Delayed

New draft environmental impact statement covers Ponce-Guayanilla corridor


December 27, 2001
Copyright © 2001 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

A draft environmental impact statement–placing the corridor from Ponce to Guayanilla as the site of the transshipment Port of the Americas–was filed last week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Meanwhile, Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero expects to issue the bid for the $35 to $37 million expansion of the Port of the South–the official name of the municipality-owned port–in March or April. The project is expected to take from 18 to 22 months and includes repairing the existing 4,200 lineal feet pier, constructing an additional 3,000 lineal feet of pier, substituting existing pavement in three piers, knocking down storage facilities, and installing two gantry cranes.

To finance the port expansion, the mayor will issue a bond, either through the Government Development Bank (GDB) or the municipality. "There has been a precedent when Carolina issued its own bond. I have discussed this with GDB President Juan Agosto Alicea and the project has repayment capability," Cordero said.

Ramon Torres, manager of the Port of the South and co-manager of the Port of the Americas, said debt service on the $35 to $37 million would be around $2 million annually. The existing pier generates $2 million in annual revenue, which is estimated to increase to between $4.5 million and $5 million with the expansion. The existing port’s management division has 45 employees. Freight forwarders there have some 300 to 450 employees, a number which could increase by 150 to 200 when the project is concluded.

Torres said he has held meetings in Jacksonville, Fla. with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and in New York with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and both are positive about the Port of the South project. "We are well aware that it is a complex project but they have promised to accelerate the revision process," Torres said.

Cordero said that once the local government selects the transshipment port operator, Ponce would negotiate rental fees for the port and expansion work in progress with both entities.

The local government plans to issue the expression of interest in January, the request for proposal in April, the bidders will be selected in October, and the contract signed in November, according to the latest Calderon administration timetable. This is a far cry from the governor’s announcement in March that construction on the port would start in January 2002.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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