PAJ signs agreement to improve towage services in port of Kingston
The Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) and Canada-based maritime company, Ocean, have signed a 10-year concession agreement, which will result in an improvement in towage services in the Port of Kingston.
Towage is the pulling of ships and other vessels along the water, usually by means of a small steamer called a tug.
Aimed at meeting the growing demand for harbour-towing services, the agreement will result in three of the latest generation of tugboats, capable of approximately a 70t bollards pull, being deployed from Ocean's fleet to the Kingston Harbour at the end of this month.
"We will have no challenge in handling the very large vessels that now transit the Panama Canal into our region," said PAJ president, Professor Gordon Shirley.
"We know they (Ocean) have deep experience in this particular field (so) they are an ideal partner," he added at the contract-signing ceremony at the PAJ headquarters in Kingston on Monday.
Professor Shirley said the undertaking is among steps being taken to develop the port community since the 2016 signing of a 30-year concession agreement with the Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited (KFTL), a fully owned subsidiary of one of the world's largest shipping lines - CMA CGM.
"Since then, they have been spending $500 million in the upgrade of the KFTL facility. The access channel to the harbour has been dredged, Gordon Quay is being reconstructed, already a half of it has been completed - over 600 metres - to take larger ships and to withstand environmental conditions that we now know are frequent," he noted.
Professor Shirley said Ocean will ensure that Jamaica has a "world-class harbour towage service in Kingston", which underpins the PAJ's commitment to the important shipping lines that have been serving Jamaica for years.
They include ZIM, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, COSCO, and HamburgSud.
Tugboats are 'powerful, safe and reliable'
Vice-president of business development and client relations for Ocean, Kevin Nichol, said that the state-of-the art firefighting tugboats are "powerful, safe and reliable" and capable of "meeting the high environmental standards required in today's demanding and growing market".
"These tugs are ideal for assisting all types of vessels, in particular the larger container ships calling at the Port of Kingston. Two of them are on their way from Canada and will be arriving in Kingston shortly," he noted.
Nichol informed that operations will begin with a combination of Canadians and subcontracted crew, with local seafarers to be recruited.
"Once recruited and trained to operate these new machines, we will offer competitive wages and introduce them to Ocean's occupational, health and safety processes. In total, approximately 40 jobs will be created and a local office opened in Kingston," he said.
He explained further that the 40 employees will provide onsite services, ensuring that operations are conducted safely, efficiently and professionally.
"Our vision for the future is in line with the PAJ, of becoming a major logistical hub, from which we also plan on offering our dredging services to our Caribbean clients," Nichol said.