Manager of the Antigua Port Authority Darwin Telemaque has unequivocally dismissed reports that a recent increase in port fees has contributed to shipping agents having to incur additional freight charges.
Telemaque, who spoke with OBSERVER media about the issue on Tuesday, said: “Whatever is happening is not predicated on a move that we’ve made to increase any fee.”
In fact, he said, “The increasing of rates at the port can only be adjusted by an act of Parliament and as of now there’s no such request coming for the Parliament to take up any such matter.”
However, according to a December 2 document, which was shared with OBSERVER media, four members of the Caribbean Shippers Association (CSO) — Crowley, Seaboard Marine Ltd, Tropical Shipping, and King Ocean — are expected to implement an Antigua Port Charge effective January 1, 2017 or January 8, 2017.
The increase was introduced after the Caribbean Ship-owners Association (CSA) based in Miami, informed members of what they said were “recent port cost increases beyond their control” for which they are now adopting a voluntary guideline to implement port charges.
However, Telemaque said the increase could likely be due to competition between agents in Antigua and shipping lines typically making moves to increase rates in various areas.
“We’ve had somewhat of a rate war with the arrival of the newest line in Antigua [King Ocean]; there have been some moves to make adjustment rates to try to compete with the competition,” he explained.
But even with the establishment of an additional shipping agent, the port, Telemaque said, is still losing revenue as a result of dishonesty on the part of some agents.
Meanwhile, numerous attempts to contact the authorities at CSA in Miami, via telephone and email, to ascertain the port charges to which they referred, have so far been unsuccessful.
There’s more in today’s Daily Observer.