El Salvador's national ports operator Cepa expects to finalize the concession of La Unión port by July 2012, the authority's concessions director, Rolando Díaz, told BNamericas.
A bill that will allow the port's concession has been presented to the legislative assembly and is expected to be submitted to the special finance committee for discussion shortly. Once the project is approved, officials will begin drawing up tender documents.
The government aims to concession the port to an international operator so it can become an international cargo hub. This will require an adequate legal framework, according to Díaz.
"By getting into line with the objectives of the private sector, we can achieve efficiency that will benefit the country," Díaz said.
Port operators such as DP World, APM Terminals, Ports of America and SAAM have all expressed interest in the project, the official said.
La Unión port cost US$183mn to build and was completed in June 2008 by consortium Toa-Jan De Nul. The multipurpose port specializes in container handling, with capacity to handle up to 850,000 TEUs in its first phase and up to 1.7mn TEUs following a second and third phase of development.
A previous attempt to concession La Unión failed in 2009 after the legislative assembly rejected a bill outlining a concession model. Cepa began partially operating the port in June last year.