HAVANA – The container terminal at Cuba’s deep-water Mariel port has handled 57 ships since it opened six months ago as the centerpiece of the island’s first special development zone.
Based on the average amount of cargo loaded and unloaded per ship, approximately 15,000 containers have been handled to date, the terminal’s deputy director, Alvaro Molina, told state television.
The terminal was inaugurated in January and is the heart of the Mariel Special Development Zone, conceived as a future economic engine for the Communist-ruled island and a focal point for foreign investment.
The terminal has 702 meters (2,300 feet) of berth and is equipped with four super post-Panamax cranes, the largest modern container cranes.
It has the capacity to handle 822,000 containers a year, according to state television, which gave a detailed description of the infrastructure, including railways and warehouses, currently under construction at the Mariel port, located 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Havana.
The container terminal was built by Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht at a cost of $957 million, with some $682 million in financing coming from that South American country’s BNDES development bank.
It is being operated by Singapore’s PSA International and Cuban authorities hope it will benefit from the Panama Canal expansion project, due to be completed in early 2016.
Cuba’s government currently is analyzing 23 potential foreign investment projects at the Mariel Special Development Zone.
The official responsible for managing the zone’s activities, Ana Teresa Igarza, said the proposed projects are mainly focused on activities that would modify Cuba’s energy matrix, including the manufacture of solar panels.
Other projects are being evaluated in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and construction sectors, among others, she said.