Port Authority boss resolute Deep Water Harbour will become transshipment hub

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CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority, Darwin Telemaque. (File photo)
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By Charminae George

[email protected]

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority, Darwin Telemaque, has reaffirmed his ambition for Antigua and Barbuda’s Deep Water Harbour to become a transshipment hub in the Caribbean.

Telemaque shared his position after the country hosted the 26th annual general meeting of the Port Management Association of the Caribbean (PMAC) in late June, during which he was re-elected as the chairman of the body.

However, he acknowledged that the first step towards positioning a country as a transshipment hub is to convince shipping lines of Antigua and Barbuda’s ability to do so.

“Hubs are determined by shipping lines. You don’t just put yourself and say that you want to be a hub. So, the shipping lines have to be convinced that you have all the pieces and all of the tools to do so,” he said.

The CEO highlighted some of the requirements many shipping lines use to determine whether or not to establish a shipping hub in a country, which include proper digitalization and proper structure from a human resource capacity.

“You want to have the right infrastructure [and] how you are positioned geographically,” he said, before providing an assessment of port in these areas.

“They are convinced that we have the best infrastructure in the Caribbean. Antigua is at the best position for a sub-region versus all of the other islands … so what we now need to do is get the right equipment, get the right digital platform,” Telemaque stated.

“We’ve tried ourselves to create one [digital platform] but most of the lines are not interested in hearing that it is not globally recognised and tested,” he added.

Meanwhile, Telemaque also spoke of the tour at the Deep Water Harbour facility which showcased the port’s upgrades to the delegates who attended the PMAC’s general meeting last month. According to him, the delegates were impressed by the upgrades.

“We had a port tour … and we were accompanied by the entire PMAC body. Everyone was absolutely astonished to see the new developments that were made,” he said.

During the tour, he indicated that a potential partnership is on the horizon as a regional shipping line had their largest vessel utilising the port during the tour.

“Tropical shipping came through in a big way in that port tour. They brought in their largest container ship in their fleet — which doesn’t serve Antigua — just to signal their interest to work along with us,”

“Tropic Jewel came through and she was working while the group went by. It’s a very large ship, the largest in their fleet…” Telemaque stated.

The US$90 million upgrade to the Deep Water Harbour port began in 2018 by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

A new cruise berth, cargo and logistical facilities, and offices for the Customs and Excise Division, the Plant Protection Unit and Immigration were among the offerings of the facility which was officially opened in December 2022.

The PMAC which currently consists of 21 ports within 20 Caribbean territories, convened its first meeting on June 26, 1998, and companies that provide a wide range of maritime services are associated with this body.

According to the association’s website, PMAC’s main goal is to facilitate operational and financial efficiency, while enhancing the level of service offered at the region’s ports and its stakeholders through the sharing of experience, training, information, and ideas.

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