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Investors Flinch at Having 2 Port Operators

January 30, 2009

The Public Works and Transport Ministry on Tuesday hosted interested parties to propose terms for building and operating port facilities at Limón and Moín, on Costa Rica’s Caribbean coast.

The project aims to specialize the operation of each port, with Limón serving as a hub for cruise ships, while Moín will be dedicated to handling cargo. The Moín port already receives approximately 56 percent of general cargo and containers. Both will require substantial construction and investment.

With activities planned for as far ahead as 2030, the forecast for the two ports will require an investor with long-term interest in modernizing and operating the two ports.

The price tag on the project is estimated at $800 million over the span of the project. Companies from Holland, Chile, China, Singapore and the United States are among those considering participating.

However, the unresolved conflict between the government and the Atlantic Port Authority (JAPDEVA) has many on guard.

Representatives from 10 of the 13 interested businesses said their decision would depend on the outcome of the conflict.

As things now stand, the private operator will compete with existing ports operated by JAPDEVA. And despite the government’s offer to give 60 percent of profits to the investor who builds the new port come 2016, potential operators are still hesitant.

“We’ve been involved and very interested since the beginning,” said Tuira Torrijos, assistant project manager for U.S. MIT Panama/ SSA International. “But the possibility of having to work with two separate contractors in the same area is definitely a drawback.’’

–Meagan Robertson

 

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