Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) on Wednesday (January 12) unveiled US$60 million in infrastructural development initiatives as part of the progressive expansion of its port terminal and logistics services business, and to better position the itself for emerging nearshoring opportunities.
The three projects were, the symbolic ground breaking for the US$30 million redevelopment of KWL’s Berth 7 and the US$25 million construction of its integrated modular logistics complex at Ashenheim Road in Kingston, and the commissioning of its new state-of-the-art Gottwald Mobile Harbour Crane valued at some Euro 5 million.
Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness in unveiling the projects, commended Kingston Wharves for “the serious investments” in Jamaica, adding that the new initiatives should be viewed within the context of KWL’s slate of previous major development projects. The Prime Minister highlighted the redevelopment of KWL’s Berths 8 and 9; the optimization of berthing capacity through berth face redevelopment; the construction of KWL’s 160,000 sq. ft. Total logistics Facility; the progressive acquisition of warehousing facilities and the reconstruction of drainage in the vicinity of its facility in Newport West. He also pointed to the acquisition of port handling equipment and the harnessing of digital technology to enhance vessel operations, port security, customer engagement and other areas of operations.
“The progress of Kingston Wharves in re-inventing and re-establishing itself as one of the most competitive and mixed–use ports in the region has been impressive….We are very pleased to see that Kingston Wharves worked alongside the Government, through the Port Authority of Jamaica, and undertaken investments of its own to match the Government’s investment in the port and logistics industry.” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness noted that the government has made significant progress to restore Jamaica’s competitiveness in the international port and shipping industry. “We have dredged shipping channels and terminal basins to accommodate the largest vessels crossing the Panama Canal… and we have built, strengthened and extended key berths in all three public terminal.” the Prime Minister said.
Additional investment to allow Jamaica to reassert itself as a leader in the maritime sector, he stated, included investment in new modern terminal equipment; implementation of new advanced terminal operating systems and security systems and the establishment of a Port Community System that was electronically integrating the key partners in the sector. The acquisition of larger and technologically advanced tugboats, pilot boats and buoy tenders, as well as the construction of over 400,000 sq. ft. of modern logistics facilities to world class specifications were other areas cited by the Prime Minister. He pointed to new legislative, regulatory and port security measures, already underway, as elements that would complete Jamaica’s transformation.
Underscoring the role of investments in port and logistics in stimulating economic growth and job creation,” he concluded, “It is obvious that not only our local people see Jamaica as a place to make investments but the international community sees Jamaica as a place to invest.”
CEO of Kingston Wharves Mark Williams explained that the company’s latest initiatives would work to strengthen the case for Kingston to provide a well-managed alternative to the congested ports elsewhere in the hemisphere and to promote the company’s facilities as a nearshoring destination.
“When completed, the 300,000 sq. ft. Ashenheim Road Logistics Complex will enable KWL and by extension Jamaica, to begin taking advantage of nearshoring opportunities, which are emerging due to the shifts in the global supply chain, as companies look for warehousing and logistics solutions closer to their target markets,” the CEO stated.
The redevelopment of Berth 7, an investment of US$30 million is aimed at reconstructing and re-operationalising important berthing space on the KWL terminal, Mr. Williams said, explaining that the project, which is expected to last 12 months, will involve the reconstruction of some 183 metres (600 ft.) of berth.
“This development will result in Berth 7 being extended 50ft into the sea at a depth of 13.5 metres to be consistent with the previously redeveloped Berths 8 & 9, thus allowing 550metres of best in class continuous berthing,” Mr. Williams disclosed. KWL has already signed a contract with Shoreline Foundation International and Brahman Construction for the berth reconstruction project.
The new crane, a state-of-the art Eco-Efficient Gottwald Model 8 Crane was acquired at a cost in excess of Euro 5 Million and brings the Kingston Wharves fleet to seven. The new crane will boost Kingston Wharves’ capacity to more efficiently handle Super-Post Panamax vessels, and combined with the berth redevelopment will facilitate the handling of a larger number of vessels simultaneously.
Lauding the Government on the introduction of the Special Economic Zone Regime; the reform of the Customs Act in progress; the digital transformation of Jamaica Customs Agency, Mr. Williams noted that legislation that will define and establish an industrialised port zone was another critical area of cooperation that would be welcomed.
“As we continue to make significant investments in this terminal, we believe there continues to be opportunities for ongoing investments in the policy infrastructure on the part of the Government,” the CEO noted.
In welcoming the Prime Minister, Kingston Wharves Chairman Jeffrey Hall noted: “We appreciate you taking this opportunity to tell the world that despite all that is going on, Jamaica is playing it safe…but we are at work and we are definitely open for business.”
“Through the work of the PAJ and the Jamaica Special Economic Zones Authority and other agencies of government, we have taken note of your commitment to secure and develop the most important zones of economic activity in Jamaica,” the Chairman observed.
Mr. Hall further declared, “I can offer you the firm assurance that we will not stop investing alongside the Port Authority and the Hon. Gordon Shirley until every square inch of Newport West is secure and organized, and a shining example of everything good that Jamaica has to offer to the world of global services.”
Addressing the contractors, Mr. Hall observed: “The fact that you are here to build this new berth for Jamaica, tells me that you have done your homework on Jamaica, and you probably know and share our view that this is a place where you can get things done, and where contracts are enforceable and where investment in time, effort and money will be rewarded.”
In his remarks, Professor the Hon. Gordon Shirley, President and CEO of the Port Authority of Jamaica observed that the development of the Kingston Harbour, and Newport West in particular, into one of the region’s leading maritime port centres has been as a result of a shared vision and complementary investment by the private sector— both international and domestic and key public sector agencies and the government. “It has also been a result of the appropriate policy direction by successive governments and the support of other important agencies such as the Jamaica Customs Agency and recently the Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority,” Professor Shirley noted.
While also outlining key investments in the port and logistics sector, the PAJ President declared, “The new investments by Kingston Wharves represent a clear signal that there is no abatement to the stream of investments that are on the horizon. These investments signal quite clearly that the best is yet to come in Kingston.”
Wishing the projects success, he lauded the Kingston Wharves Chairman and Board of Directors for their astute guidance, and commended the CEO and executive team for their energetic and effective leadership.
Clover Moodie Group Chief Financial Officer at KWL delivered the vote of thanks; Denise Walcott-Samuels, Associate Pastor of the Faith Cathedral Deliverance Centre and KWLs Human Resource Manager, gave the blessing while Debbie Bisson chaired the day’s proceedings.