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Kingston Wharves invests $1B on development projects

Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) has invested some $1 billion in terminal and logistics infrastructure development projects in an expanded vision to become the preferred port-centric logistics partner connecting the world to Caribbean markets, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Williams.

“Even amidst this pandemic, Kingston Wharves is about to spend in excess of $1 billion to ensure that this terminal is COVID-19-ready and indeed ready for the next 75 years,” Williams said while speaking at the company’s annual general meeting held yesterday. While only a limited number of shareholders could physically be at the meeting, the media was invited to join via live-stream on YouTube.

Williams indicated that the company began with dredging and rehabilitation projects for all nine berths. In addition, it has started developing its 13-acre property on Ashenheim Road, resurfaced the container yard, and reconstructed facilities in and around KWL, which is expected to be completed by the third quarter.

“We also have plans to build a 300,000-square-feet warehouse facility and about 100,000-square-feet of this will be used for cold storage. We want to ensure that we have a safe facility for all our carriers, main business partners, and remind our international market that Kingston Wharves remains open for business and are first class,” he stated.

The CEO further added that KWL will invest some US$2 million to develop a robust internationally accepted security system. This he says will include an expansion in its CCTV surveillance coverage, improved access control system and intrusion detection system.

“Our plan is to strengthen KWL to compete regionally in the multi-purpose business and the multi-user terminal operations. We want to expand our footprints into nearby territories, seek acquisition opportunities, and diversify our cargo type. What COVID-19 has taught us is that we need to ensure that business in not concentrated in any cargo type.”

KWL enjoys a robust business model and is not dependent on the container aspect of the business, which makes up for only about 35 per cent of the company. The 340,000-square-feet, multi-purpose port terminal operator also tranships motor vehicles, grains, lumber, and steel.

For the first quarter ended March 31, 202o, the group achieved consolidated revenues of $1.9 billion, a two per cent or $43 million increase over the corresponding period in 2019. Net profit also increased by 22 per cent relative to the prior year, to $562 million.

KWL’s terminal operations division generated operating revenue of $1.5 billion for the three-month period, an increase of four per cent over the corresponding period of the prior year, while the logistics services division continued to experience growth in the first quarter. The latter generated revenues of $529 million, an increase of six per cent over the prior corresponding first quarter.

–Abbion Robinson