Companies confused by the bidding rules for operating Mexico's four major containerports will have to individually approach the government for clarification, a top official from Mexico's transport ministry said Thursday.
"As people go to the ministry to get more information, this (bidding process) will be clarified," Aaron Dychter, assistant minister for transportation at Mexico's Secretaria de Cumunicaciones y Transportes, told a transportation conference here.Mexico has been trying to privatize operations at its four major containerports for a year-and-a-half. Last week, after several false starts, the rules for making bids on the ports were published. However, some of the restrictions put on the bidding have confused potential buyers.
"We don't know exactly what we can do," said Leopoldo Gomez Gonzalez, executive director of operations for Transportacion Maritima Mexicana, a primary shipping line that wants to bid on the ports. "No one understands the rules."
Box terminals are being put out to bid at the Port of Veracruz on the Gulf coast and at Manzillo and Lazaro Cardenas, both on the Pacific coast. Also up for bid are two multiple-use terminals at Lazaro Cardenas, two in Manzillo and two at Altamira, on the Gulf coast.
The Mexican government decided to put the terminal operations up for bid as a way to improve operations and raise cash. Operations at the ports will be awarded under 15- to 20-year contracts. The government hopes to raise about $200 million from the privatization of the terminals.
At the same time, the government is trying to maintain competition among the port operations. That is why it put certain restrictions on the bids. However, it is those restrictions that seem to be causing the most confusion.
"It was decided there would be some limitations to avoid one group having all the terminals in one area," Mr. Dychter said, speaking through an interpreter at the Transporte Internacional conference.
One restriction is particularly troublesome. Companies can bid on all four containerports, but there are limitations on who can win how many bids. No one can win two container operations on the same coast.
The restriction complicates bidding because companies looking to have operations on both coasts don't know how to structure their bids - should they make bids for different port combinations or individual bids?
"We're still trying to get answers," Mr. Gomez said.
To make a bid, interested parties will have to send 2 million pesos (US$344,828) to Mexico's transport ministry as a guarantee. To make a bid on more than one port, an additional deposit of $689,665 is required.
Bidders with promising offers will be notified between April 28 and June 2.
Contracts will be formalized by July 28 for most terminals and August 25 for the multiple-use terminals in Lazaro Cardenas and Manzanillo.