$1 billion deal
Dutch firm gets concession for Moín port
By The CAFTA Report
(March 1, 2011) The Costa Rican government today awarded a Dutch company
a concession totaling $1 billion to construct a state-of-the-art
container terminal at Moín on the Caribbean coast. The new
terminal will compete with the government-owned docks that are
considered highly inefficient.
Casa Presidencial said the project would bring 2,000 jobs to the poverty-ridden Caribbean coast.
The contract went to APM Terminals, which says it offers an integrated
global network of ports, terminals and inland services. This network
has 53 ports in 32 countries, 121 inland facilities in 48 countries,
with a total of 22,000 employees in 62 countries, the company said in a
"This project is a key and a priority within the national development
plan in matters of infrastructure," said Laura Chinchilla, the
president. She said other projects involve improving the highways that
lead to the port, including the troubled Ruta 32 between San
José and Guápiles, as well as an expanded petroleum
refinery on the Caribbean.
Francisco Jiménez, the transport minister, noted that the
Moín port was the principal exit for goods going to the United
States and the European Union. The problem at the port is one of
congestions due to an insufficient number of docks and limited storage
capacity for containers, he said. The current docks can only handle a
single ship at a time. In addition there are tourism cruise ships
that dock at the nearby Port Limón.
Some 75 percent of Costa Rica's exports pass through the Caribbean
ports and in order to reach a government goal of $17 billion in exports
in 2014 addition infrastructure will be needed, said the minister.
The terminal shall assist in the transformation of the economic and
social development of Costa Rica and of the province of Limon in
particular, said the company. The firm projected approximately 1,000
direct jobs during the construction phase and 450 jobs during the first
phase of operation, coupled with new investments and indirect jobs in
the area. That was less than the government's estimate.
The company gave this description:
In the first phase and depending upon technical studies, the access
channel and the area where ships turn will be dredged to 16 meters
(52.5 feet) deep. A new 1.5-kilometer (nearly one mile) breakwater will
be constructed. The container yard of with an area of 40 hectares (148
acres) will be created together with 600 meters (nearly 2,000 feet) of
pier with two separate places for ships to dock. Additional works
includes the administration building and a 12‐lane gate.
Equipment in the first phase will include six ship‐to‐shore gantry
cranes and other specialized equipment. This first phase will be
completed in 2016 and will cost an estimated $543 million.
The terminal will undergo phased expansión in accordance with
provisions of the concession agreement. Upon the completion of the
final phase, the terminal will have an area of 80 hectares, with 1,500
meters of pier, five berths, a 2.2-kilometer (1.4-mile) breakwater and an
access channel 18 meters (59 feet) deep.
The company added that the dredging will permit the entry of larger
ships with greater container capacity, creating economies of scale and
that construction of the breakwater will counteract weather conditions
that prevent normal functioning at the port of Moín and enable
the terminal to operate 365 days a year.
Casa Presidencial said that the waiting time for ships to be loaded or
unloaded would be reduced from sometimes five days to a day. The
government said that the premises envisioned by the company would be
one and a half times the size of Parque La Sabana.
The company will have three years to build the first stage, which
includes two berths. Within 10 years or when traffic equals 1.5 million
containers a year, the company is obligated to construct a third
berth.The third stage begins when container traffic reaches 2.5 million
The government reduced the proposed fee for handling a container from
$246 to $223, it said. The cost would be better than the estimated $311
per container at the existing government docks. They are operated by
the Junta de Administración Portuaria y. Desarrollo
Económica de la Vertiente Atlántica.
The actual cost at the government docks is higher because there are
additional fees for guards and rental of space. The World Bank
estimated that the cost is higher due to delays. In 2008 there were
38,000 hours of wait time valued at $765 million, according to the
bank, the government said. The total cost of exporting a container this
year is $1,190 in Costa Rica, $729 in Panamá and $456 in
Singapore, the government said. In addition the new facility will be
able to receive ships carrying up to 9,000 containers compared to the
current maximum of 1,200, said the government.
It was in April 2009 when the government published and offer to create
a concession at the port. The project is opposed by the dock workers
union who have rejected a major payoff from the state. There are
frequent job actions there. The unions were hardly mentioned Tuesday,
but there is the probability of legal action and demonstrations and
strikes from the current workers.
Also not mentioned Tuesday was the possibility of constructing a dry
canal whereby containers unloaded at either Moín on the
Caribbean or Caldera on the Pacific could be transported by rail to the
other coast. Much of the rail infrastructure already is in place,
although a bypass would have to be constructed around the metro area
where trains compete for road space with vehicles.There also is a break
in the line due to weather and lack of maintenance east of Cartago.