A Turkish port operator says it will transform Puerto Bolivar near Machala into Latin America’s largest container terminal. The port is currently the country’s primary export point for bananas and seafood.
According to the Istanbul-based Yildirim Group, the development plans could have major implications for Machala and Cuenca, 70 miles to the northeast.
In a 50-year concession signed Tuesday with the Ecuadorian government, Yildirim promised to invest $750 million in port development with a goal of handling 2.5 million containers per year. The agreement was negotiated earlier this year when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited Ecuador. Puerto Bolivar becomes the 21st international port to be managed by Yildirim, which calls it a key component in its goal to become one of the world’s top 10 port operators by 2025.
Yildirim says the first phase of port expansion, to begin before the end of the year, involves dredging to deepen Puerto Bolivar’s draft from 33 feet to nearly 56 feet to allow passage of the world’s largest ships. In addition, construction will begin on a mile-long quay and terminal, equipped with state-of-the art infrastructure and cranes.
Yildirim said that Puerto Bolivar will be able to expand its current export operations which in include seafood, minerals, and agricultural products, as well as bananas.
Because of the scope of the expanded port, Yildirim says it will have a major economic impact on Machala and Cuenca. The company said that highways between Machala and Cuenca will eventually need to be expanded to handle business associated with the port.