Interest had been shown by several international operators, including Ultramar, SAAM and Empresas Navieras; DP World; Ports America; and China Merchants. In addition, a bid was expected from a consortium put together by operators in both Argentina and Peru, while Grup TCB, which operates Barcelona Container Terminal and TCBuen, in the Colombian port of Buenaventura, had stated, publicly, interest in the project.
However, this week media reports in Ecuador challenged the administration of the Port Authority, blaming it for, “a fall in container loading”. In response, Patricio Barriga, the Government’s Undersecretary of Political Communications, warned that this was, “a clear ploy to stop the current concession process that the Port Authority of Manta carries out under the highest standards of international quality and framed in the constitution and laws”.
He stood by the concession process, stating that he was confident that it will attract investment and stability, which will benefit Ecuador.
Referring to the challenges and the political overtones expressed by stakeholders and former functionaries of the previous port authority administration, which have been against the management by the Citizen Revolution, Barriga said, “We are concerned with how they want to manage this issue”.
Documents reveal that since 2009, the date at which the Government of the Citizen Revolution took over the administration of the APM, there have been sustained increases, with cargo movements increasing by 11%, from 813,271 tonnes in 2009 to 902,670 tonnes last year (2011). The number of vessels handled also increased 57% from 761 to 1,194 over the same period.
However, referring to the 5% reduction in cargo during 2010 compared to 2011, Barriga explained that this was as a consequence of action taken by the Government to reduce the country’s commercial deficit. As a result there had been a reduction in trades such as break-bulk, bulks and vehicles.
“There is no truth that the resources assigned to Port Authority of Manta were not used in 2010 because of lack of institutional planning,” he said.
It has been estimated that US$282m will need to be invested in the port over the next 25 years to fund changes to the infrastructure, handling equipment, superstructure and available services, with the aim of expanding Manta’s overall international activities.
Planned new quays at Manta will offer alongside draught of 16 metres, which is needed to accommodate much larger container vessels expected following the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014.