Progreso | History  


The port of Progreso was founded by Don Juan Miguel Castro in 1872, and due to its strategic location, just 36 Km away form Merida, is considered a natural gateway to connect the Yucatán Peninsula with the rest of the World by sea.

With the boom of the Sisal (Henequen) and facing the necessity of exporting this product, a battery of 3 piers was built, which for a long time worked efficiently for the port traffic, which supplied the peninsula of all products arriving via the ocean. These wooden docks had an official depth of 11 feet, so the ships were forced to anchor at least 3 miles away in the ocean; facing the necessity for docks with a greater depth to cover the maritime traffic requirements, A new dock that would cover the increasing necessities of the maritime traffic was requested to the government of president Lazaro Cardenas, so in 1937 the Danish company "Christine and Nielsen" was hired to build the viaduct and wharf at a cost of 13 million Mexican pesos with a work duration of over 11 years, a period of time that spanned the presidential periods of Lazaro Cardenas, General Manuel Avila Camacho and Miguel Aleman Valdez.

On the fist days of the month of June, 1947, the monumental building was set in service, and a termination a viaduct the length of 1.8 kilometers and 2 wharf docks of 200 meters each, and an official depth of 15 feet for both docks, the first ship to dock at the newly completed pier was called the Emancipation.

The newly popular pier was complete in its services and for many years following the cargo was handled through the port, assisted by the railroad and road transportation, however, in face of the important advances in the area, both commercially and industrially, the port capacity was limited to receive only small vessels, that could carry only up to 3000 tons of product, making the maritime freight less competitive each time.

For that reason, in 1985, with the support of the federal government the amplification of the port of Progreso began, with the construction of a viaduct of 4.5 additional kilometers to the original 2 kms, for a total of 6.5 kilometers long, and to develop the current remote terminal with an area of 43,000 square meters of maneuvering yards and three docking positions; this terminal allows vessels with 23 feet of draw to dock, which means the ability to receive ships with up to 18,000 tons of product, six times more than what the intermediate terminal was able to receive.

Thanks to this great workmanship, which has made possible the docking of larger ships, the state of Yucatán has had an outstanding development in the poultry, pork and balanced food industries, thus permitting the import of necessary supplies at lower costs, thus positioning Yucatán among the first places nationwide in these industries, and at the same time it has allowed an important growth of the maquiladora (Mexican factory) industry in the state, that has taken advantage of the strategic location of the port, that allows them to reach within 36 hours the most important ports within the United States and South America, creating an important work source.

With the passing of the new Law of Ports in 1993, the Integral Port Management offices were created, thus allowing the opening for private investment in the ports has led to the rapid growth reflected in the drive of the economy in the Yucatán peninsula. The remote terminal in ten years after it began has begun to shows traces of saturation, not only in the maneuvering yards and storage areas, but also in the docking positions, where it is common to see waiting lines.

As way of example we mention the total volume of cargo operated in the port from one million nine hundred forty-seven thousand tons (1,947,000) in 1995, to three million two hundred eighteen thousand tons (3,218,000) in the year 2000, this shows a 65% increase in volume, containers increased from 11,000 units in 1995 to 59,000 units in the year 2000, which shows an increase of 336%; this explosive growth motivates intense technical and economical studies for the need of a new expansion port.

The federal government, through the Secretary on Communications and Transport and the General Coordinator of Ports and the Merchant Marine, began working in May 1999 on the fourth stage of the enlargement of the port, without a doubt one of the most important investments in the maritime and portuary sector in the period of President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, the main objective of this work was to increase the depth of the port, from 7.5 meters to 12 meters in the navigation channel, and to 11.30 meters in the maneuvering basins, which will allow larger ships to dock meanwhile lowering the maritime freight costs; it was a great challenge, because the bottom of the ocean had to be dredged, which had a lot of rocks, and for this, the Mexican-Dutch company DAMEX was hired, and they had to use, during the dredging, two of the largest and most powerful dredgers in the World, the URSA and the ORANGE, producing four million three hundred thousand cubic feet of rocky material , a construction company of marine and portuary infrastructures along with Mexican technology built close to 40 hectares of filler for different purposes: First, the enlargement of the communication viaduct, from two to four lines, with a length of 4.5 kilometers; Second, three hectares for relocating the maritime customs offices; third, five hectares for the cruise line terminal, which will get a private investment of more than 60 million pesos (6.3 million dollars); fourth, 23 additional hectares to the original four, for building a terminal specifically for containers, and relocate the bulk terminal, enlarging its capacity of storage from 20,000 to 52,000 tons, and a larger area for the multiple uses terminal. Likewise, a position will be destined for installing a hydrocarbons unloading terminal, built by PEMEX, and with these works we increase from three docking positions to nine with the possibility of building one more in the near future.

These enlargement works created a great number of jobs, both direct and indirect, with a termination of construction in a record time of 19 months, with a total investment of 1,130 millions of pesos = 119 million dollars, invested by the federal government.

With the termination of the channel and the cruise ship dock, along with the capacity to serve two mega cruise ships of the fourth generation at one time and a position for receiving tourist ferry's, this will reflect in an increase the tourist activity in the area, and Port Progreso will be included in the cruise ship routes that navigate to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.

The terminal specialized in containers, which will be managed by private companies, will receive an investment of 150 million pesos = 15.8 million dollars, in equipment, including the installation of two Panama type dock cranes for serving the container carrier ships efficiently, providing productivity at international levels.

The oil terminal, with a programmed investment of 82 million pesos = 8.6 million dollars, is another achievement of the enlargement project, for now tank ships with 40,000 tons of product will be able to dock, and this will reduce the unload time of hydrocarbons, creating important savings in the cost of freight and maneuvering, making the unload operations safer, avoiding leaking accidents and environmental damages.

The bulk terminal managed by Multisur, with a private investment of 600 million pesos = 6.3 million dollars, will allow the receiving of larger ships, because previously the port was limited to receiving bulk carrier ships with just 18 thousand tons paying for the full slip freight. Now, the same ships will be able to dock with their full capacity of up to 35 thousand tons of product, and increase the efficiency of unload from 8 thousand to 20 thousand tons per day.

The relocation of the new maritime customs will be provided with the most modern and sufficient infrastructure, for speeding up the procedures of foreign maritime trade and cruise passengers, and avoiding the obstruction of vehicle traffic.

The enlargement project of Port Progreso will increase, without a doubt, the investments and the business opportunities in the area and it is estimated that with this development we'll be able to achieve a mobilization of 12 million tons per year without the risk of saturation. Therefore, Yucatan will not only have a way of up to date and efficient communication, but also an important tool for its industrial and economic development thus achieving the growth and progress expectations of our country, Mexico.