TERMINAL TRANSFORMED

Jamaica 2018 | TRANSPORT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Olivier Tretout, CEO of Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited (KFTL), on progress, collaboration, and incentives at the Kingston Container Terminal.

Olivier Tretout
BIOGRAPHY
Olivier Tretout began his career in urban planning and environmental policy, and dedicated over 20 years to the French Ministry of Transport, Urban Planning, Environmental Policy, and Social Housing. Over the years, he has been assigned to oversee and develop key assets in competitive markets in Africa, South America, North America, and the French West Indies. An engineer by profession, he studied at Nationale des Travaux Publics de l’Etat in Lyon, combining engineering and financial management, and Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées in Paris where he obtained a master’s in public management and technical mastery.

What are the objectives and progress of the expansion of the Kingston Container Terminal (KCT)?

The expansion of KCT is being undertaken by KFTL, a company incorporated in Jamaica that was granted a 30-year concession by the government to operate, expand, and improve the terminal. The purpose of the upgrade is to position Kingston as the top-ranking hub in the region, enabling KFTL to accommodate the largest New Panamax vessels, which can carry up to 14,000 TEUs. Our initial achievements included the deepening and widening of the nautical access, upgrading of all IT systems, construction of a new IT infrastructure, and acquisition of two large gantry cranes, among other numerous handling equipment. The entire project will be completed by the end of 2018. We have already experienced a surge in transshipment volumes since the takeover of KCT in July 2016. CMA CGM and ZIM are currently our two main customers in terms of volume. When global shipping volumes grow by 4%, for example, the simultaneous increase of the vessels' size generates more transshipment volumes in well-located hubs, which is the case for Kingston. Hubs such as Kingston have to absorb the demand surge due to these new larger vessels. To meet this demand, we have also embarked on an aggressive recruitment and training policy to increase the number of vessel gangs available around the clock.

How will the development of the port improve the Jamaican economy in the coming years?

This state-of-the-art maritime hub is a competitive advantage for the Jamaican economy as a whole. It allows local manufacturers to source their materials from a wide range of markets, and they also benefit from having direct connections to a wider range of export destinations, reducing their logistics costs. To take advantage of this situation, we are engaged with the Government of Jamaica and many agencies and entities, such as the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), and the Airport Authority of Jamaica (AAJ). We are a major player in Jamaica's logistics hub initiative and see our role as providing a world-class hub, delivering top service to our customers, which include the shipping lines, importers, exporters, consignees, and local corporations. We work closely with all the relevant stakeholders, such as the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA), Port Trailer Haulage Association (PTHA), Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC), Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), and Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA). Every day we serve them efficiently and provide the service they need from us. On the shipping line side, the availability of berths and other services at our port for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year is a key factor of our competitiveness. A second factor is reliability, in that when we start an operation we have to deliver. The third factor is efficiency. Because all the time spent at berth is a loss of time and money for a shipping line, we continuously work to improve our productivity levels and efficiency. Safety and security at the port are also key factors in our operations, and we constantly monitor these at all times.

Are the regulations or incentives adequate to turn the logistics hub initiative into reality?

The Jamaican Special Economic Zone Act is a new legal framework for business that we are satisfied with. Cooperation with the PAJ and JCA is great. It takes some time to build these processes, and we need to continue with this work and investment. The resources being made available locally match what we need for the hub to expand. There are currently discussions about developing the land adjoining the port for hosting major international logistics operations. Hopefully, by 2018, there will be tangible development of the logistics hub.