$40m could fix port problems
DOMA to Govt:
The Downtown Owners and Merchants Association (DOMA) yesterday said that a $40 million Government injection could fix the current problems at the Port of Port of Spain and save thousands of directly related jobs.
In a media release, DOMA stated that several shipping lines have been forced to pull business from the local port because of costly delays. While the group said it "regretted" adding to the burdens of the new Minister of Trade and Industry Vasant Bharath, the ongoing issues at the facility required immediate intervention as business owners continue to lose money because of port inefficiency.
"Since December 2011, a major ship to shore crane "STS1", commonly called the Gantry Crane, has been out of service," the group said.
They said the Shed 9 project which has also been stalled needed to be jump-started, as it would create more ground space for container storage and would ease the congestion at the Port and increase capacity.
"The available information to us is that several requests have been made for this funding, but to date, no repair can be effected because of the non-allocation of the required resources to the Port," DOMA said.
DOMA said the stagnation of both projects led to the loss of confidence in major shipping lines and has caused delays "that have been reported internationally".
"Substantial congestion surcharges have been imposed on cargo inbound to Trinidad. Added to this are substantial delays in export-bound cargo because of the reduction in sailings into and out of Port of Spain.This is hurting our non-oil export business and threatening thousands of jobs," the business group said.
"The shipping lines have understandably moved their more reliable vessels to destinations in which they have greater confidence and the net effect has been to reduce the reliability of Trinidad and Tobago exporters with the natural negative impacts that flow from this," DOMA added.
The business group said even with the now reduced sailings to the country, inbound vessels would still have to wait to unload.
"This additional waiting time is adding to the congestion charges being imposed on local business operators," the group said.
They called on Bharath to give this situation "immediate attention" and find a solution as the busiest time of the shipping calendar is in the third and fourth quarters of the year.