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American Shipper

Bahamian government leaning toward alternate container terminal

Bahamian government leaning toward alternate container terminal

Bahamian Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is moving closer to a proposal of developing a new container terminal in the Arawak Cay section of Nassau rather than relocating Nassau's terminal to the opposite side of New Providence Island.

   Nassau and some of the most prominent resorts in the Bahamas are located on the northeast side of New Providence. During the administration of former prime minister Perry Christie, from 2002 to 2007, the government strongly considered relocating the container terminal for New Providence to a site on the southwest side of the island.

   However, Ingraham, a one-time prime minister who returned to office in May 2007, is leaning towards developing an estimated $200 million terminal at Arawak Cay, west of central Nassau, near the existing port location. In his annual 'report to the nation' speech last week, Ingraham said he hopes to help revive the Nassau downtown business district by getting port activities away from the city center as soon as possible. He said developing an Arawak Cay terminal would be a faster, easier alternative for shipping services.

   'While all are not agreed on the location of a new cargo terminal for New Providence, all interested parties, in both the public and private sector, agree that the revitalization of the City of Nassau requires that we remove the storage of shipping containers from the heart of the City of Nassau,' he said in his speech. 'I am pleased to advise that by the end of this year, 2008, we will cause to be discontinued the storage of shipping containers and the movement of containers along our city center during daylight hours.'

   Public Works Minister Earl Deveaux elaborated on those plans, telling the Nassau Guardian Monday that there was no cost analysis done for alternatives to the southwest New Providence site. The port relocation would cost an estimated $200 million to $400 million, and the new government feels the Arawak Cay site should at least be considered.

   The newspaper also reported in today's edition that government officials are in discussions with Mediterranean Shipping Co. to help cover the costs of a new terminal at Arawak Cay. The report quoted local shipping executive Dudley Martinborough and other industry sources as saying MSC might pay for the terminal in exchange for the rights to operate the facility, as well as a container shuttle barge between the Port of Freeport and Arawak Cay.

   Under that scenario, Freeport would serve as the effective gateway for Nassau container shipments, with a feeder operation moving Nassau containers to a scaled-down port operation.

   The Florida Caribbean Connection could not get a comment on the proposal from MSC in time for today's edition.

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