Economic opportunities are expected to abound for Jamaica, through the establishment of a multibillion-dollar ship repair and maintenance facility in the country.
Called the German Ship Repair Jamaica (GSRJ) Shipyard, the project will provide dry docking (lifting the ship out of the water) for commercial vessels up to 20,000 tons, and a range of maintenance and repair services to vessels operating in and around the Caribbean and Central America.
Phase one of the project, which is to be completed by October/November this year, is being undertaken at an overall cost of nearly $6 billion (or US$37 million), with financial partner Sagicor Bank committing to half of this amount as a bank loan.
This will see the first floating dry dock, JAM-DOCK 1, becoming operational.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who delivered the main address at Tuesday’s (January 24) launch at the Kingston Harbour along the Sir Florizel Glasspole Highway, said that “this project will earn foreign exchange”.
“It will provide high-quality jobs, and it will contribute greatly to the prosperity of our country,” he added.
Holness noted that the development will contribute to the positioning of Kingston Harbour as a global logistics hub, pointing out that each year, Jamaica receives approximately 3,000 port calls while approximately 180,000 vessels operate within the region.
“With the investments that are being made in improving Kingston as a logistic hub, we are certain that we have now closed one of the major gaps that have existed and that more ships passing through the region will be inclined to come to Jamaica,” he said.
For his part, GSRJ Limited CEO, Colonel Martin Rickman, said that the project “represents a new industry for Jamaica with great opportunities for other spin-off businesses, hence even contributing more to the economy”.
He pointed out that Jamaica’s “excellent geo-strategic location” makes the country particularly suitable for having a shipyard.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right), greets Deputy Chairman, German Ship Repair Jamaica (GSRJ), Charles Johnston (second left), while Chairman, GSRJ, Peter Harren (left) and CEO GSRJ, Colonel Martin Rickman, look on.
Detailing the specific operations of the facility, Colonel Rickman explained that “we here at GSRJ Shipyard will be able to lift that ship out of the water to conduct many types of work on the hull, the propeller, engine repairs and the entire nine yards, so this is significant for us”.
By international maritime law, all ships are required to be dry-docked to check for safety and integrity once every five years and attain class certification.
The CEO said that the training component of the project is crucial to enable workers to meet international standards to carry out the required operations.
Some people have already been trained.
Meanwhile, President and CEO of Sagicor Group, Christopher Zacca, said that as lead arranger, the organisation is “confident that this new development will make a significant impact on the country’s shipping industry while also contributing to our productive economy”.
“We want all Jamaicans to share the vision of the stakeholders; this is a big deal for Jamaica and we want Kingston to have the leading ship repair and servicing port in the Caribbean,” Zacca said.
The GSRJ’s partners include Harren and Partner Group, Germany; Kingston Holding, Jamaica; Kloska Group, Germany and HAT-SAN Shipyard, Turkey.
Government agencies involved in the project are the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the National Land Agency (NLA), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), the Attorney General’s Department, and others.
Several private-sector entities are also involved in making the project a reality.
The GSRJ started business in Jamaica in 2016 with the intention to build a ship-repair facility at the Kingston Harbour to boost employment and introduce the country to viable economic activities in the shipping and maritime industry.