China Harbor Engineering Co Ltd starts construction of the port of Tibar in Timor-Leste

17 July 2019

China’s state-owned Chinese Harbor Engineering Co Ltd has begun construction of the port of Tibar in Timor-Leste with the first blasts at a quarry to collect construction materials, the Chinese embassy in the country said, adding that the official ceremony to launch the work took place on 15 July.

The embassy said in a statement that the ceremony was attended by senior representatives of the government of Timor-Leste, including the Ministers of Transport and Communications, José Agostinho da Silva, of Agriculture and Fisheries, Joaquim José Gusmão dos Reis Martins and of Defence, Filomeno da Paixão de Jesus, as well as the Chinese ambassador in Dili, Xiao Jianguo.

Xiao Jianguo said there is huge potential for infrastructure cooperation, mentioning 20 companies in his country involved in this sector, one of which, China Harbor Engineering Co Ltd, belongs to the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) included on the Global Fortune 500 list.

The project has had several “false starts” with the first laying of the first stone in June 2017, with a ceremony led by then Minister of Planning and Strategic Investment, Xanana Gusmão, and officials from the consortium led by the French group Bolloré.

Issues related to both financing and subcontracting eventually affected the start of the project, with a second launch ceremony taking place on 30 August 2018, and work almost eight months later has hardly begun.

Located about 10 kilometres west of Dili in the Bay of Tibar, the project includes the participation of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group.

The first phase of the project (construction, equipment and operation of the port) is valued at US$278.3 million, with the Timorese government financing US$129.45 million and the private partner the remaining US$148.85 million.

In the second phase, when the port is already operating, the Bolloré group, which subcontracted the Chinese company for construction works, plans to invest about US$211.7 million, largely raised from revenues from port activity. (Macauhub)