Call to pool resources in shipping industry
The demand on seaports in the Caribbean is about to increase and countries need to ready themselves for the business growth. They have been given notice of this development by Caribbean Shipping Association (CSA) president Grantley Stephenson, who said much of it was being led by the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Stephenson was also speaking in the wake of a recent memorandum of understanding between the CSA and the Port Management Association of the Caribbean (PMAC), an agreement he said “paves the way for both organizations . . . to work together in a number of area areas”.
In a message published in the October to December 2013 edition of the CSA’s Caribbean Maritime magazine, Stephenson said Caribbean shipping was experiencing historic growth and should look to cash in on it.
“At this time in our history, the Caribbean is experiencing an unprecedented level of cargo movement by sea. The most heavily served trade lanes out of Florida are those heading south. New trade routes are being charted to or through the Caribbean,” he said.
“Expanded trade arrangements are being planned and negotiated. Logistics hubs are being promoted and ports are expanding and preparing for bigger ships and increased volumes of cargo. We are witnessing progress as the world changes at an accelerated pace.
“The volume of ship traffic to and through the Caribbean is at an all-time high and our ports and terminals are now contemplating even further expansion and development,” he added.
Stephenson also noted that the opening of an expanded Panama Canal in the near future “is expected to further increase volumes and place even greater demands on our ports and maritime infrastructure”.
“How shall we respond? As I said to the port managers, the old adage ‘unity is strength’ provides for us a formula. If we pull together, we can successfully address and overcome most of the inherent problems associated with increased traffic, rapid and sustained expansion of cargo volumes and increase in vessel size and draught,” he said.
While seeking to benefit from the growth, however, Stephenson said it was important for shipping domiciles like Barbados to join with its regional partenrs and “pool our energies, wisdom, experiences, skills and resources in the search for solutions to those problems which hamper development of the regional shipping industry”.
“It is vital that we review and, where necessary, modify and expand strategies to exploit the many opportunities which abound. History demands that we support each other in combating problems and clearing the hurdles we face individually and collectively. We cannot show insularity, sluggish bureaucracies, or anything else for that matter, to undermine and frustrate the process of growth and development,” the president said. (SC)