Argentina’s transportation ministry has approved the bidding documents for the public tender for the Port of Buenos Aires, with the winning company required to continue the ongoing expansion works representing an investment of US$760m in the first ten years.
The country’s General Administration of Ports is expected to call for bids in the coming days.
If the process proceeds according to schedule, the Port of Buenos Aires will next year have just one concessionaire instead of the current situation where three groups control five container terminals – DP World (Terminales Río de la Plata -TRP, which operates Terminals 1, 2 and 3), APM Terminals (Terminal 4) and Hutchinson Ports (Terminal 5).
Gonzalo Mortola, controller at the Port of Buenos Aires, stated: “This project was unthinkable three years ago, but despite the “impossible” and “cannot” we started the path to position Puerto Buenos Aires as a leader in the region, and we are achieving this, today, with this resolution, we reinforce the direction of change, betting on a port connected with the provinces, modern, with more capacity and fundamentally without mafias that increase the logistics costs and make it impossible to grow our country.”
The port’s modernisation project has received heavy criticism in the last few years with long delays causing operators to put investments on hold while some sceptics have hit out at the lack of a comprehensive national transport plan.
In November 2018, Olaf Merk, ports and shipping expert at the International Transport Forum (ITF), part of the OECD, told CM: “If the size of container ships continues to grow, it is difficult to see how Buenos Aires can still be an effective container port in 35-50 years’ time.
“There could be long-term options that would be more attractive to terminal operators, either more downstream or more upstream.”
Following the launch of the port modernisation plan in December, a period of consultations was enabled so that the port community and interested parties could get to know the project and make suggestions.
The renewal of the port infrastructure will double the current cargo capacity and will have a flexible design, adaptable to the needs of the market in a more competitive and sustainable way according to the port administration.
Up to now Puerto Buenos Aires has carried out expansion works for US$75m, adding 9 ha for logistic operations in the Dársena F area and 15 ha north of the sixth jetty that will function as an external cargo terminal.
It is hoped that the expansion will allow the entry of larger vessels with greater cargo capacity. Being a single operator, the maximum rates will be established by contract to ensure greater transparency and competitiveness.
Port administrators believe the modernisation will enhance intermodality, reduce logistics times and costs. Currently, and for the benefit of the most remote provinces, railway accesses are being improved, trucks will have a single access and a larger and better equipped waiting area.
The barges, on the other hand, will have a dock with exclusive priority and, thanks to the customs corridor in which they are already working, the operations will be more efficient and coordinated.