The Colombian ports of Cartagena and Buenaventura are Panama’s main competitors in terms of container terminals, the Panama Canal Authority, or ACP, administrator said Tuesday at a business forum.
Both of those ports have been improving their installations and increasing their capacity for nearly a decade, since the Panama Canal began its much-publicized expansion, Jorge Luis Quijano said.
By contrast, the Central American country has focused too much on widening the canal and “fell asleep” in the ports area, he added.
“We’re falling behind … it’s a shame we didn’t realize it before,” he said at the forum at Panama’s Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture.
The Port of Cartagena, which is located on Colombia’s Caribbean coast and has 3,936 meters (12,905 feet) of dock space, is located just 12 hours by ship from the Panama Canal, while the Port of Buenaventura has 3,370 meters of dock space and is located 28 hours by ship from Panama’s interoceanic waterway, Quijano said.
“These two ports have become the most significant competitors for Panama,” he said, noting that the Central American nation also has the additional drawback of not being a major manufacturing country.
The ACP administrator said Panama’s two Pacific ports have just 2,064 meters of dock space and therefore urged business leaders attending the forum to support the construction of the Corozal container terminal, which is currently in the bidding phase but will eventually have more than 2,000 meters of dock space.
“With the expansion of the Panama Canal, we recovered part of what was passing through (the Suez) Canal. With the Corozal project, we want to recover some of what’s going through Buenaventura and Cartagena,” Quijano said.