Friday, December 18, 2020

Major Port Development Projects Planned for Middle Eastern Player

However Potential Corruption Will Need Serious Attention
Shipping News Feature

The Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA), a state run operation charged with managing the Ports of Shuwaikh, Doha and Shuaiba for the past forty three years, has recently confirmed that twelve infrastructure projects are in progress under the auspices of the country's development plan 'Kuwait Vision 2035 New Kuwait'.

The projects aim to develop the three main ports and boost facilities at the Fintas & Mahboula Marinas, whilst establishing four logistic cities, and a dry port west of Al-Shuaiba port, in addition to the development of an industrial port in Southern Kuwait. The schemes however have a major hurdle to face which KPA’s Director General Sheikh Yousef Al Abdullah Al Sabah was open in discussing, namely the corruption associated with any such major projects.

It is an open secret that, as with many other countries, corruption seeps into many layers of business in Kuwait, especially where officials responsible for granting permission for development or public procurement occurs. Despite many ongoing investigations it appears there have been no major convictions for bribery in the past thirty years.

Speaking to local press Al Sabah pointed to the fact that the KPA has increased its profits by 50% in the past five years to circa 50 million dinars, and said outlawing corruption was the key to financial success, observing:

“We hope that KPA’s profits will exceed 56 million Kuwaiti dinars in the economic year 2020-2021. By combating corruption and working with all our capabilities, we were able to achieve these profits and recover many of our properties and money, we have also worked to reduce expenses, better select national personnel teams, and seek the help of major international companies for financial auditing.

"We have come a great way, about 80% in retrieving our properties, and we are still on with our fight against corruption in the courts. Being as transparent as we can be, we acknowledge this problem and admit that we are fighting it, because with corruption, development cannot not be achieved.”

So the intention now is to make the country’s ports capable of taking the larger vessels which now serve the markets of China and East Asia, giving them ‘smart’ capability through up to date digital systems. These will all operate via a Port Community System and a ‘Port Gateway’ project both aimed at centralising operations for all stakeholders, from shippers and carriers to Customs authorities. Al Sabah concluded:

“KPA’s projects are the gateway to development. We seek many international standards to improve the working environment, develop a standard of logistical performance, attract foreign investment, enable small and medium enterprises and employ and train national cadres. It is mainly everything that contributes to the development of Kuwait in general. It is our duty to ensure that the goals of these projects have an evolving and developing return.”