By Makeida Antonio
Antigua and Barbuda will continue to put every effort into attracting more shipping firms to the country’s port, according to the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority (ABPA) boss.
Port Manager Darwin Telemaque indicated that the decision by major company Crowley Shipping to halt its services to parts of the region, including Antigua and Barbuda, has negatively impacted the port’s revenue.
Crowley announced it was axing services to the Leeward Islands last month, citing pandemic-related pressures. The company had served the region for five decades, bringing in revenue through various port fees and payment for use of local equipment.
“The cargo that Crowley was carrying will go on another shipping line that comes into Antigua. From that perspective, there is really no shortfall there. However, we don’t have Crowley which means that the port lost revenue,” he said.
“Crowley, the ship itself, brought revenue to the port and we don’t have that. When the ship came, we had equipment utilisation that we don’t have now.
“From that standpoint, what we are trying to replace is the management of the cargo coming in. We want to have additional lines coming to the port generating revenue,” Telemaque told Observer in an interview.
While other ports in the region also have to navigate new waters in search for new shipping lines to come as others continue to leave, Telemaque has assured residents that Antigua’s port is exploring methods which will strengthen the relationship with existing lines.
He said he believes that this move will also boost finances.
“As a port, Antigua is looking to find new options. We are looking at those who are doing business with us now to see if they can expand what they do, thereby bringing in more revenue and that can be done in the form of trans-shipping services that we can attract from some of the other lines, maybe direct service into Antigua. These are some of the things that we want to do with the other lines to try to get more business here,” he said.
Telemaque also revealed some avenues that are being considered by the port in order to make Antigua and Barbuda more appealing to shipping firms.
These include improving equipment, modernising the technology being used, and an overall positive shift in the general attitude of the port’s employees.
“In addition to the beautiful layout and nice concrete that we have, we now have to be more attractive in how we deliver the service to the service providers that bring in cargo here,” he said.
“We want to make the ships feel like we are interested in them. We want to discharge their cargo quicker, we want to load them back quicker, we want to show them that our equipment is functioning well.
“We have some challenges with our crane; we want to get a new one. Those are things we ought to be looking at to make us more attractive,” Telemaque added.