A major new port in Antioquía is expected to boost the competitiveness of Colombian fruit exports by dramatically improving the infrastructure in one of the country’s major production areas.
The project will bring significant benefits to the banana industry as well as to producers of other fruits including pineapples, avocados and berries.
With the tender process nearing completion, work on the new port in the Gulf of Urabá is due to begin in October 2016 and could be completed by 2019.
This will be Colombia’s first semi-automated port with of one of the largest specialised refrigerated cargo terminals in Latin America.
Around US$400m of public and private finance will be invested in the first phase of the project, due for completion in mid-2018. This will allow the port to handle around 7m tonnes of cargo, giving it a similar capacity to the port of Cartagena.
It will include the construction of a 4.2km viaduct linking an offshore platform with five berths to the port terminal. With a depth of 14 metres, it will be capable of accommodating 95 per cent of the world’s ships, including post-Panamax vessels, according to the port authority.
The second phase of the project will cost US$180m and will double the port’s cargo handling capacity to 14m tonnes.
The Urabá region in Antioquía is at the intersection of a network of highways linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and Panama in the north to the rest of South America.
According to a recent report by Maersk Line, fruit exports are fuelling the growth of containerised shipments from Colombia. Foreign trade in containers from the country increased by 4 per cent in the first quarter of 2016 compared to the same period last year.
The port is one of several high-profile infrastructure projects that will bring important benefits for the regional economy. The construction of the so-called Prosperity Highway and Toyo tunnel will slash transit times between Medellín and the new Port of Antioquía from six to four hours.