Sunday 3 December 2023

Inevitable collapse of Puerto Caldera will occur at the end of 2024

Government's palliative plan adrift

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2 December 2023 - At The Banks - Source: BCCR

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Q COSTA RICA – The Sociedad Portuaria Caldera (SPC) – Caldera Port Society – since 2006 the operator of the Caldera port, Costa Rica’s main terminal in the Pacific, engineers have determined that Costa Rica’s major port on the Pacific, will exceed its capacity by the end of 2024.

Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica’s main terminal in the Pacific

This would mean that vessels will not be able to dock to discharge or load cargo and will instead have to wait in a queue or look for an alternative port if the wait is too long.

Currently, Puerto Caldera operates at 90% capacity, and anything above 65% is considered congestion.

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Palliative works adrift

Ricardo Ospino, the General Manager of the SPC, informed the Costa Rican export sector that the palliative works proposed by the government of Rodrigo Chaves would not be done due to the concession contract not being extended for five more years.

Ospino noted that if the concession agreement could not be extended, the urgent reforms, such as equipment, infrastructure and dredging, would not be carried out either.

According to Ospino, instead, only “light” work will be done, which will not have the same effect on preventing congestion and collapse.

A concessionaire in waiting

At the end of the current contract in 2026, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is advising the Government on a new contract, which could be awarded to SPC or another operator, instead of extending the current contract.

The Manager of SPC said that there is no valid reasoning not to support the extension of the current contract for five more years. He noted that other events in the long-term, such as the installation of scanners to check containers and the arrival of new shipping companies, could impact the port negatively.

Ospino also mentioned that there are no true solutions available to tackle this issue.

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Ospino made these statements during a forum organized by the Cámara de Exportadores de Costa Rica (Cadexco) – Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica.

The Director of Cadexco, Rodney Salazar, made a plea for the implementation of palliative works to be done quickly.

Salazar stated that the outcome of the conciliation between the Instituto Costarricense de Puertos del Pacífico (Incop) and the current concessionaire is required in order to decide on an effective plan for these measures in the short-term. He further added that urgent mitigating actions are necessary to ensure the continuity of cargo movement at Puerto Caldera.

“We are waiting for the result of the conciliation between the Incop and the current concessionaire, in this way government authorities can decide on an implementation route for these measures in the short term,” said Salazar.

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“Puerto Caldera has required urgent mitigating actions for a year, to ensure the continuity of cargo movement, regardless of the development of the international tender,” he added.


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