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Ponce Favored Over Guayanilla For Megaport

Federal Authorities Concerned Over Environmental Impact Of Proposed Guayanilla Landfill


December 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Perhaps as expected, the Calderon administration has chosen Ponce as the principal port for the Port of the Americas and not Guayanilla, as had been originally proposed under the Rossello administration.

As a result, Ponce stands to gain close to $560 million in total investment and a new 3,000-foot pier to be built at the Port of the South.

Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. Executive Director Hector Jimenez Juarbe confirmed the decision was reached after discussions with federal regulatory agencies, which have repeatedly expressed their concern over the environmental problems the landfill would cause in Guayanilla in order to provide space for container storage.

"The 70 acres that need to be filled in Ponce don't present any environmental concerns. In Guayanilla, the area was regularly frequented by eight manatees that mated and fed on the undersea grass," Jimenez Juarbe said. Another species, the Brown Pelican, has also visited the area.

Imenez Juarbe said while the decision to favor Ponce would delay the transshipment port proceedings 60 to 90 days, time would be made up in the process of choosing the port operator. He added he was writing this week to all the consortiums that expressed an interest in bidding for the port to see if they would still be interested.

Two consortiums did submit their papers to be qualified. The Port of Singapore and Mainport, the Dutch group that includes the Port of Rotterdam, headed locally by Dutch honorary Consul Frank F. Haacke. Mainport was prequalified last week and the Port of Singapore had been qualified previously. Jimenez Juarbe said if some of the companies that had dropped out of the race express renewed interest, they would have to submit their papers before the request for proposal (RFP) is issued.

He expects the RFP to be issued by February 2003 at the latest.

Jimenez Juarbe said they studied the possibility of purchasing more land in Guayanilla to use for container parking but that also raised environmental challenges, which would have made the project economically unfeasible.

Jimenez Juarbe, who prior to his appointment as Pridco head was project manager for the Port of the Americas, said the Ponce port would have a capacity for 1.2 million to 1.4 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units or containers) and the scaled-down Guayanilla would have 500,000 TEUs. Before, Guayanilla was to have 1.5 million TEUs and Ponce 600,000 TEUs.

"Guayanilla will be built as the need arises and the 1.2 million to 1.4 million TEUs in Ponce will meet Puerto Rico's transshipment cargo demand for many years," Jimenez Juarbe said. Guayanilla would represent a $383 million investment.

"Construction was slated to begin in 2004, but now that Ponce has been chosen it could start earlier," Jimenez Juarbe said. He added he has written to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other federal and local regulatory agencies telling them about the new definition of the project.

"I don't anticipate any problems because our actions were based on their ongoing recommendations," he said.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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