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Kingston Wharves to finalise berth redevelopment by September

Kingston Wharves Limited expects to finalise the ongoing expansion at Berth 7 by the end of summer, a project that’s being financed by a large bank loan.

The expansion will allow large ships to dock at the same time.

“The Berth 7 redevelopment project is progressing well, and destined to deliver modernised berthing capacity, efficiency, and enhanced experience to shipping lines that call our terminal. Specifically, the project will see the expansion of the main berthing area to simultaneously service two post-Panamax vessels,” said Kingston Wharves Chairman Jeffrey Hall.

The berth will be extended to a depth of 13.5 metres, similar to Berths 8 and 9. The project is expected to be finalised in the July-September quarter.

“This development will boost our competitiveness and strengthen our offering as a key gateway in the Caribbean. As a leading motor vehicle trans-shipment hub and auto logistics provider, we are expanding storage and short-stay maintenance facilities for automobiles,” said Hall regarding the current project.

Kingston Wharves Limited, which operates Jamaica’s second largest cargo port and is controlled by Jamaica Producers Group, ended the 2022 financial year with mixed results. While revenue rose nine per cent to $9.5 billion, the company’s bottom line shrank by 16 per cent to $2.7 billion due to currency fluctuations and higher expenses.

Hall said the high cost of energy and increase in the price of critical inputs required for the terminal and logistics operations affected the demand for some of Kingston Wharves’ services and the overall cost of operations.

The Berth 7 project is one of three that Kingston Wharves announced back in January 2022. Of the overall US$60 million investment projected, half of it or US$30 million – around $4.6 billion at current exchange rates – was to be spent on Berth 7; US$25 million on the company’s 300,000-square foot modular logistics complex at Ashenheim Road in Kingston; and US$5 million on crane installation.

The company last year took out a $3.8 billion loan with Scotiabank Jamaica for the berth development, and made its first drawdown of $1 billion in the October-December quarter.

The $3.8b “non-revolving term loan” matures in seven years.

Kingston Wharves previously borrowed $1.8 billion from Scotiabank several years ago to fund the development of its Total Logistics Facility. That loan becomes due this year, 2023.

Both loans are secured by collateral totalling $5.6 billion.

Hall said Kingston Wharves’ outlook remains positive as it invests to keep pace with increased global trade.

“I believe that our strong foundation, solid investments and robust strategic plan will continue to act as a platform for growth and profitability,” stated Hall.

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