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Port speed in for boost

Marlon Madden

Port speed in for boost

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Minister of International Transport and International Business George Hutson is promising a faster turnaround at the Bridgetown Port.
His promise came as he outlined a number of ongoing and future initiatives during a Press conference yesterday to mark the launch of the port’s 50th anniversary celebrations. 
“Our goal is to move a minimum of 90 per cent of cargo out of the port within five working days,” Hutson said.
Noting that the Bridgetown Port had made a substantial contribution to the economic and social development of Barbados and has been an important gateway to the rest of the world, Hutson said he was hoping they could “soon expand linkages to source regions such as Brazil, Central America and China”.
The minister said that Government would be “repositioning the Bridgetown Port to better expand its synergistic impact on society and the economy”. 
“First is the review of the port efficiency and performance to identify the best ways in which the handling of cargo and organisation of the port labour can lead to more cost effective and cost efficient service. Work in this area has already begun with the installation of the new port management information system which will reduce paper flow between the port and customers and relevant stakeholders,” he said.
Other development strategies include the separation of cruise from cargo shipping, improvement of customer service, greater transparency within the port and Customs Department and to offer “greater value for money”.
Hutson said he would shortly be presenting a proposal for the development of cruise facility to Cabinet.
He declined to comment further on the development plans.
“Going forward, the rhetoric and the posturing must cease and the real issue of the overtime, payroll, charges and other inefficiencies which impact on competitiveness of the Bridgetown Port must be addressed,” he said.
During the Press conference, the port also launched its first handbook, Port Handbook 2011 – 13. Divisional manager of corporate development and strategy for the port, Kenneth Atherley, told the SATURDAY SUN that the Bridgetown Port currently got out about 50 per cent of cargo within the normal storage period of five working days. This, he said, was due to a number of factors including “documentation issues” which they would be addressing with the health and agriculture departments.