by Staff Reporter
THE Chamber of Commerce of Majorca, Ibiza and Formentera has proposed remodelling the port of Palma, a project which would cost 1'800 million euros. It involves expanding the Muelle de Poniente (South Quay), building a new Dique del Oeste (West Dock) and constructing a terminal for cruise ships.

Chamber chairman Miquel Lladó said that the proposal had been made in order to open up a debate on the future of the city's port structures, which he considered too small for present needs.

The Chamber's proposal is based on a survey drawn up by specialists from the Spanish Maritime Institute, which calculates that between 42 and 56 new berths will be needed in the port of Palma by 2020. At present, between 17 and 19 are used.

The construction of a new Dique del Oeste would cost 1'436 million euros and would take six years to complete. It would provide a dock of 3'000 metres for mooring and a quay of 109'000 square metres, according to Vicente Iborra, who prepared the survey.

He said it would then be possible to equip 1'535 metres of new mooring space, with a capacity for six large liners, and 23'500 square metres of breakwaters, with 788 metres of mooring space.

He claimed that merely enlarging the Dique del Oeste would only be a stopgap solution, and would only equip the port's amenities to the demand of the next five or six years.

The report justifies the proposed reforms by pointing out that occupancy of the port's infrastructures is already at 85 percent, 20 points above the recommended level, and takes into account the predicted increase in the size of the ferries and cruise ships.

It has also evaluated adapting the port infrastructures to the demands of new safety regulations and the expected increase in maritime traffic over the next year.

According to Iborra, the survey was triggered by Palma's failed bid to host the Americas Cup, its possibilities for hosting Olympic sailing events in 2012 and plans to recover the commercial docks for leisure purposes.

The latter two possibilities would lead to the loss of five berths and 119'999 square metres of dockside warehouse space, said Iborra, who dismissed the impact on the environment that construction work would involve.

Jesús Alvarez, who heads the Chamber's transport committee, stressed the financial and commercial benefits of liners being able to moor at the Dique del Oeste and pointed out that the arrival of cruise ships is at present conditioned by the ferry timetables.

Lladó stressed the need for action to prevent the negative repercussions which lack of amenities would have on the economy.
Lladó said that the proposal had been sent to the port authorities and the central government representative, and added that the finance should come from the central government. The report says that more than 1.6 million passengers a year use the port of Palma, 40 percent of them cruise ship passengers.