By Carlena Knight
Cargo operations at the port will undergo some major changes due to ongoing construction at the port.
The first phase of the port transformation project has seen the construction of a new ‘roll-on roll-off’ berth, a new administration building and a new warehouse.
With the first phase complete, and the second just weeks away from completion, shipping agents and port officials held a meeting yesterday at the Multipurpose Centre to discuss a suitable plan to coincide with the work being done.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque said there will be a limited amount of space for cargo operations for the next few months.
“Literally we have lost 50 percent of our usable space at the port. When this happens in a few weeks after the Chinese would have completed their quarantine and started working, I believe we are going to lose the high dock area, part of the mechanic shop area, and so I can imagine we are probably going to have a reduction of about 20 percent in addition to what we [already] have,” Telemaque said.
“Literally, we will only have the backside of the warehouse in which we will have to accommodate all we have here, and then we have the container yard west of the warehouse,” he added.
With this revelation, plans will be put in place to divide the operations into two groups with priority being placed on food containers rather than bulk containers consisting of lumber, cars and other materials. Warehouse operations will however remain the same.
“We are going to have to divide our cargo operations into two groups, and we are going to assign a time of the week for our container operations. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we are going to make that container cargo operations days. The container traffic is our main priority. You can’t eat asphalt, you can’t eat cars, you can’t eat lumber, but we need our food, and so we have dedicated those days to container traffic, so we will now allow you to do Thursday, Friday and Saturday for our bulk cargo,” he explained.
Following this suggested timeframe, the question of extending the hours and even approving a 24-hour operation was put forward.
Telemaque mentioned that although they are not against such a policy, this first has to be discussed with a third party.
“I don’t know if the appetite for this will exist at all levels, but I do understand that with this change of giving me a window from Sunday to Wednesday for example, we should also look to utilise that time fully if we can. Once you get a third shift, we run a discussion that will have to be had with the unions,” he explained.
The second phase of the project will see the construction of the main berth.