Feature
Public Relations and Human Resource Manager at the German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited (GSRJ), Dr. Birte Timm.  
Photo: Adrian Walker

Story Highlights

  • Jamaica stands to gain significantly from the countless opportunities, investments and economic prospects that are being created through the logistics sector.
  • The global industry was worth over US$5 trillion in 2015 and is projected to grow to US$15 trillion by 2023.
  • “If Jamaica can get one per cent of that pie, we will be in a much more advantageous position,” highlights Manager of Logistics and Infrastructure at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Don Gittens, in a JIS interview.

Jamaica stands to gain significantly from the countless opportunities, investments and economic prospects that are being created through the logistics sector.

The global industry was worth over US$5 trillion in 2015 and is projected to grow to US$15 trillion by 2023.

“If Jamaica can get one per cent of that pie, we will be in a much more advantageous position,” highlights Manager of Logistics and Infrastructure at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Don Gittens, in a JIS interview.

Mr. Gittens, in highlighting the business prospects that the logistics sector presents, says there is opportunity for the country to “seriously” tap into services, such as ship chandlering and home porting.

Manager, Logistics and Infrastructure at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Don Gittens.

 

“Ship chandlering is the provision of goods to ships when they come here, and currently, Jamaica has close to 4,000 ship calls per year; and on the cruise ship side, we have over seven cruise ships home porting in Jamaica, that is, the cruise starts and ends in Jamaica,” he notes.

“So, persons going on a cruise may fly to Jamaica, start the cruise in Montego Bay, go throughout the Caribbean and then end back in Montego Bay, then fly out,” Mr. Gittens explains.

He cites the potential to increase airlift and visitor arrivals, and for farmers and other suppliers to provide the ships with goods, such as water and produce.

“JAMPRO is aiming to have companies use Jamaica as the hub where they land their goods and then we distribute to Brazil, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Panama. So, this we see as a significant logistics investment and value-added,” he reasons.
Mr. Gittens further highlights prospects in the areas of ship maintenance and repair.

He points out that the ships that call at the ports per year will require some maintenance and small repair.

“So, we will need to have that service on land to make sure that Jamaica is a good destination to come to, and to ensure that persons do not bypass Jamaica because we do not have that service,” Mr. Gittens says.

Meanwhile, Public Relations and Human Resource Manager at German Ship Repair Jamaica Limited (GSRJ), Dr. Birte Timm, tells JIS News that the establishment of its ship maintenance and repair facility will significantly contribute to Jamaica’s logistics sector and economy.

The company started business in Jamaica in 2016, with the intention to build a ship repair facility in Kingston Harbour to boost employment and introduce the country to viable economic activities in the shipping and maritime industry.

“We have an increasing number of ships coming into Jamaica, bringing all these goods that are a part of the logistics and supply chain opportunities. All these ships that come into the harbour might want repair services as, like a car, they have to do a fitness at a particular interval, so they are looking for opportunities to dry dock,” Dr. Timm says.

She adds that having no shipyard in Jamaica means ship owners and operators have to deviate their vessels from Jamaica, and so, they either do not stay as long here or take other routes all together.

“So, adding this facility to the logistics hub, it will add a very critical element that we can benefit from,” Dr. Timm reasons.

She notes that while the ship repair yard will employ approximately 600 people permanently, there will also be the need for subcontractors to provide technical services.

“There is also the opportunity for other companies and entities, as housing will be needed for these persons who will be coming in, also transportation and hotels. Visitors to the city will increase, persons will have to eat, and during their visit they are going to be spending a significant amount of money here in Kingston,” she outlines.

She informs that GSRJ has partnered with the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) to undertake its skills training programme, aimed at increasing employment in the logistics and maritime industries.

Dr. Timm points out that the two-year training programme entails theory and apprenticeship components covering aspects of ship repair and welding.

“This training initiative is stemming from the fact that there is no ship repair industry in Jamaica at present. The closest facilities available are in Curaçao and The Bahamas, which primarily attract the cruise vessels, but for the container ships for which Jamaica is one of the main

destinations in the region as a transshipment port, we have no skill sets readily available in Jamaica that are required to work on those huge container vessels,” she says.

Dr. Timm explains that the German Dual Apprenticeship Model has been applied to the training programme, with a focus on both an apprenticeship component, while rolling out the theory.

The training programme, she notes, will build the capacity and establish a pool of skilled persons locally to work at the ship repair facility, instead of having to recruit from overseas.

Endorsing the logistics sector efforts, Director at bSmarte Logistics, Gordon Foote, says his company is committed to contributing to Jamaica’s implementation of a global logistics hub and its participation in the global supply chain industry.

“Our focus is on maximising the benefits for Jamaica through increased knowledge, targeted skills development, improved business understanding and driving investment into viable opportunities,” he tells JIS News.

He points to various opportunities and avenues that individuals and sectors can consider to strengthen the logistics sector in Jamaica.

“We are looking to build out the capabilities and services that we offer, to be more attractive and look at the many things that occur around us. We now have better interconnectivity and by connecting air and sea, this gives us a lot of potential for increasing airlift and moving cargo,” Mr. Foote says.

He adds that the logistics sector presents opportunities for various fields, sectors and careers, including lawyers, insurance entities, financial services and transportation.

“Do lawyers realise that they are a part of this logistics industry? How many new companies are going to be registered here? With increasing jobs, do our insurance companies realise that there are more people and families who may want to secure their future through insurance; and have the banks come up with products to offer these persons who will now be earning a future?” the Director highlights.

He adds that consideration must also be given to the many services that will be needed to those people at the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

“Farmers need to look at different ways of supplying food to these groups of people and in terms of transportation, how are you going to move these people to get to work on time, and provide caregivers for their children. So, there is opportunity for everybody and as such, we have to move away from just viewing this as just a port and a shipping opportunity and consider the countless possibilities,” he tells JIS News.