In 2016, DP World won a 50-year concession to build and operate Posorja Deepwater Port. How has the project advanced thus far?
DP World Posorja has been developing four projects in one: the access road, the new navigational channel, the container terminal, and the logistics park. We are building a 20-km access road, all the way to the container terminal. Eventually, this will be four lanes, but in phase one we are limiting this to two lanes. We have developed the drainage, pipelines, and two layers of 9-cm base for the road, along with three bridges. The access road is key for the construction works on the terminal, so we ensured rapid progress for it. At present, 64% of the road is complete, and our goal is to finish it by March 2019. For the channel, we need to dredge a new seaway of nautical miles at 16.5m depth. Flanders Dredging, an international company, is developing that project, and it is 69% complete. Some of the phase one dredging materials are being used to construct two dykes for phase two, which brings costs down. Then, there is the 480m quayside development for the container terminal. We are using a new and more accurate method to position the platform and piles to prevent harm from waves, currents, and wind. Out of the 320 piles, around 60% is put in place in the berth. To create this berth, we have a concrete plant onsite to build the precast molds. For the 40-ha yard, we are already working on the ducting for electricity and drainage systems, and the pipes and foundations for the administration building, workshop, customs, and anti-narcotics. That work started in August 2018 and we have completed 40% and are planning to finish it in May 2019. Aside from the container terminal, we will have a 100-ha logistics park under economic zone environment next to the port. This is what DP World did in Jebel Ali Free Zone and now has over 7,500 customers for regional distribution. Due to the strategic location of Ecuador, Posorja has great potential to become a regional hub for the west coast of South America. By building a port with a depth of 16.5m, the big ships with 12,000-15,000 TEU capacity will be able to dock as well. It will create direct shipping traffic, which is in line with our intention to build a distribution hub.
What are some of the innovative container handling solutions DP World is bringing to Posorja Deepwater Port for smoother operations?
In terms of technology, we have an existing contract with Navis to manage our terminal operating system (TOS) at Posorja Deepwater Port. We also have Navis' Expert Decking and Pre-Route Control systems to speed up loading. Plans are also in place to have an automatic gate and X-ray scanners to minimize intrusions by anti-narcotics. All these systems are crucial, for example, we will have a lorry park and a vehicle booking system to track and manage the exact number of daily transactions and everyone who enters the premises. This will help us have better organization and more efficient operations in the yard and with the vessels.
What do you think of the government's initiatives to promote PPPs and attract more investment through new regulations?
For DP World Posorja, the government is creating an environment that gives companies legal security, which is important. It is also giving the tools and fiscal benefits to attract potential foreign investors to come to Ecuador. Our project is a starting point to trigger foreign investment as it is one of the biggest investments in Ecuador. The interaction and relationship we have with authorities and the processes for obtaining all the necessary permits and licenses will show how successful the government has been in putting the mechanisms in place to facilitate investors. In that sense, DP World Posorja should hopefully be a blueprint and an enabler for future investors.