The government will choose a port partner in 2023 | Local company

WORKS and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said yesterday that next August the Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking a private investor for the Ports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) will be released .

It has been 20 months since the government signaled its intention to seek a private investor for the PATT through a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement.

Sinanan dismissed the suggestion that it took a long time for the issue to be resolved, explaining that it was a big step forward and as such not something that could be rushed.

He said the Washington, D.C.-based Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been contracted to provide technical assistance to the government, which includes assessing project readiness and developing activities necessary for the success of the project. the implementation of the project.

“Right now we are formalizing the tender, which should be released by August,” he said.

He expects the tender to be out for about three months and an operator to be installed by 2023.

In the search for a private partner for the Port Authority, the project went through several stages.

In August 2021, PATT invited investors to express their interest in private sector involvement.

According to the Authority, the EOI has been designed to encourage and create a competitive environment for the creation of new business opportunities and new sources of revenue for the Port Authority and the potential partner.

The EOI targeted investors with experience in port investments, development and operations, shipping, logistics and cruise operations.

Potential investors were invited to come up with business ideas that will support participation in a public-private owner model project with the Port Authority in the areas of Cargo Operations at PATT, Cargo and Cruise Operations at Port of Scarborough, regional cargo operations at Caricom Quays and the Port Authority’s cruise shipping operations.

In the notice, the Port Authority said it recognizes that an effective PPP arrangement has the potential not only to generate revenue, but also to positively improve the experience of port users, businesses and the community. national community.

The EOI was closed on November 23, 2021.

Sinanan said the EOI should determine the market appetite for the project.

In addition to the EOI, the PATT has published a short-term tender for the procurement of consultancy services from the Port Authority for the PPP project for the period of November 1, 2021 to December 17, 2021.

Sinanan said the request for proposals for a partner is the final phase of completing the exercise, which is taking place under the guidance of an inter-ministerial committee.

He said the committee needed to decide on a model that would be appropriate for the government to use to find a partner for the port authority.

“We ended up having more questions than answers during the process. But we went through the process carefully and thoroughly for a project of this magnitude,” he said.

“We expect this to be fully completed by 2023,” he said.

Regarding the port workers and their concern about job losses in the process, Sinanan said the union is currently in negotiations with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and does not want to say much to this subject.

“These questions will come once we complete this process,” he said.

The PPP initiative aims to streamline PATT operations and introduce a private sector operator in port handling operations. The approach aims to improve the competitiveness and efficiency of Port operations.

Project launch

The issue of the government seeking a private partner for the PATT was first raised by Finance Minister Colm Imbert during the presentation of the 2021 budget on October 5, 2020.

Imbert said the government was seeking private sector support for the economy.

“In particular, Madam President, the private sector has become increasingly and successfully involved in cargo handling operations in port facilities around the world. Public port agencies have moved away from the service port model in which national port authorities provide all commercial services as well as regulatory functions; but are increasingly using the owner’s model. The government has decided to adopt this approach, with the Port Authority retaining its regulatory and asset management functions, but with responsibility for the management, operation and finance of commercial activities such as terminals and facilities. in the port area under the responsibility of a new investor.

“The Ministry of Works and Transport will therefore be mandated to take immediate action to streamline by the end of fiscal year 2021, the operations of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago and to introduce a sector operator private in the port handling operations now carried out by the port of Port of Spain, leaving the ferry service to the Trinidad and Tobago Inter-Island Company Limited and the land to the Port of Spain Infrastructure Company. We will also take steps to ensure that the operations of Point Lisas Industrial Port Development Corporation are consistent with the operations of Port of Port of Spain Port Handling Operations,” he said,

The Cabinet then appointed a committee chaired by the Minister for Public Administration, Allyson West, which produced a report on the port’s potential.

Based on this report, which was submitted to Cabinet, the port was mandated to come out with an expression of interest.

In an interview with the Express last year, port chairman Lyle Alexander said port operations could be more efficient and lamented that the port had not been profitable.

Alexander had said the port was one of the few in the region that had no private sector involvement.

The fact that it has remained a public entity for the past 100 years, he said, hasn’t worked out for him financially.

In fact, being public and relying on allocations from the Public Sector Investment Program (PSIP) has been a downside.

While ports in the region have been able to develop better infrastructure and operational efficiency, PATT has lagged in upgrading its equipment.

Jamaica ahead

In April 2015, the Ports Authority of Jamaica (PAJ) signed a $510 million agreement with the French company Terminal Link/CMA CGM Consortium, for the privatization of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT).

Speaking at the signing ceremony, then Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said the agreement paved the way for the dredging and expansion of KCT in two phases, which included dredging of the shipping channel, the turning basin and some berths to accommodate the mega ships that are expected to arrive after the expansion of the Panama Canal.

The privatization of the facility and the dredging of the port, which were key aspects of a 30-year concession agreement, were part of Jamaica’s plan to position the island to become the fourth node in the global supply chain and benefit from increased maritime activity. , following the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, according to a report by the Jamaica Information Service in April 2015.