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President of the Port Authority of Jamaica, Noel Hylton has assured that measures are in place to assist manufacturers, whose goods are on vessels that have diverted from the Kingston Transshipment port.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ today (December 16), Mr. Hylton appealed to persons whose cargo have been diverted, to submit the names of the ship and the container to the Authority. He said that on ascertaining the location of the vessel, all efforts would be made to contact the ship and have the containers returned to the port as speedily as possible.
“We will use our best endeavours to get that container back to Kingston as quickly as possible,” he assured.
Mr. Hylton noted however, that very little response was given to a notice published to alert individuals of this provision. “Only 10 people responded to that advertisement and of the 10, we discovered that their containers were on the port,” he pointed out.
He further noted that the attempt was still being made, despite the fact that the Authority had received no information about vessels diverted.
While not disputing the fact that some containers had been diverted, Mr. Hylton said what has not been ascertained was the cargo on the ship and whether the shipment was local, as only 10 per cent of cargo handled on the terminal was destined for the Jamaican market, with the other 90 per cent for transshipment.
A special help line has also been established, through which persons can indicate their concern and relay the necessary information about their goods.The President pointed out that delivery had been less than optimal, as persons had not been requesting containers as rapidly as hoped. Similarly, individuals have exploited the low storage costs offered by the Authority by leaving goods unclaimed for longer periods than necessary.
Mr. Hylton said one major cause of the backlog being experienced, related to the build up of vessels with cargo to be discharged, a situation further aggravated by the hurricanes, which had caused significant damage to several of the region’s ports, resulting in more ships making stops at the port. This further contributed to the increased turnover rate, he added.
Various initiatives have been taken by the Port Authority to alleviate the situation. These include extending the opening hours and operating on Saturdays and Sundays. Previously the ports were closed for delivery on Saturdays and the container yard was normally closed on Sundays.
Mr. Hylton said contracts with shipping lines to provide berths for docking were also suspended, with agreement from the shipping lines. The decision was taken to give priority to ships unloading cargo and accepting similar or reasonable amount of containers when leaving.
One major move was the closing of the terminals to ships on November 28 to re-organize the containers, during which transshipment containers were separated from domestic containers to fast track delivery, and some 5,000 empty containers removed to land acquired for that purpose. Some 10,000 full containers were moved.
Ports around the world that are experiencing congestion are: Antwerp, Belgium; Caucedo, Dominican Republic; Durban, South Africa; Flexistone, England; Gio Tauro, Italy; Haifa, Canada; Kingston, Jamaica; Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA; Mumbai, India; Nava Shiva, India; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Santos, Brazil; Seattle, USA; Singapore, Singapore; and South Hampton, England.
At present the Kingston terminal has a capacity to handle 1.2 million TEUs (twenty foot container moves) annually, and when the planned expansion is completed, it will have a capacity to handle 1.5 million TEUs annually.
In October, the Authority handled some 74,192 containers, the most in its history, of which 10,621 was domestic and 63,571 transshipment.
Between September and November some 187,056 containers were handled, of which 160,813 were transshipment and 26,243 domestic.
Several initiatives and measures will be implemented to prevent the recurrence of delays and backlog at the port. These include the provision of an additional 350 metres of space for berthing at the Kingston terminal by January 5, 2005, and the introduction of a notice of intention to collect container or containers as is done at other ports worldwide.
Plans are also afoot to introduce a new gate system governing access to the port with the installation of an electronic gate with X-ray capabilities. It is anticipated that this will accelerate the reception and delivery of containers at the gate and dramatically reduce the paperwork that is required of the truckers.
The Port Authority expects that by January 30, 2005, berths will be readily available. The plan for phase five of the expansion programme for the Port, which was scheduled to begin in 2007, will be fast tracked.