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Panama's Hugo Torrijos dies at 59

Panama's Hugo Torrijos dies at 59

Panama City: The Asian and world maritime community is saddened by the news that Dr. Hugo Torrijos, one of the principal architects of Panama's modern maritime industry, died today aged 59 of cancer.
A graduate of the London School of Economics, he was the nephew of Gen. Omar Torrijos who put him in charge in the late 1970s of the Directorate of Consular Maritime Affairs that oversaw the Panamanian Registry transforming the obscure register into one of the world's largest open registries at the time. Torrijos remained at the helm of Panama's flag for more than 11 years, improving its reputation and modernising the register by introducing state inspections and ratifying all the conventions of the IMO where he was permanent representative for many years.
During his tenure as director-general of Panama's National Port Authority (APN) from 1994-98, he presided over Latin America's most successful port privatisation and transhipment programme.
He was a very well known figure of the international shipping world and friend of all the powerful shipping figures. Torrijos convinced them to look at Panama as a future transhipment hub, bringing Evergreen's owner and chairman Chang Yung-Fa to invest in the construction of Colon Container Terminal (CCT) on the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal and leading the privatisation of Balboa and Cristobal whose international tender was won by Hutchison Whampoa's subsidiary Hutchison Ports Holdings in 1998.
Besides following his political career, Torrijos went on to create the Panama Maritime Documentation Services Group, specialising in ship survey, certification and registration, with 100 representative offices around the world and went into forming several port outsourcing companies. His older son Hugo Alfredo Torrijos Dajer will continue the family tradition.  [21/12/10]

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