ON THE RIGHT: Expansion is key to port success
THERE ARE SEVERAL IDEAS out there for transforming Barbados, one of which is the new sugar factory.
Of course renewable energy is a transformative idea and we want to embrace that, but certainly trans-shipment of cargo can be a major economic fillip for Barbados. One of the issues we have is space.
To accommodate the size of the containers used by the shipping industry will necessitate an expansion of the Bridgetown Port, but expansion perhaps can’t happen currently where the port is, we would probably have to go offshore and build an island. This is the sort of thinking that will be required.
Jamaica is going to build an island to deal with trans-shipment and Jamaica has a lot of land already.
We don’t have a lot of land so if we want to think this big, if we want to get into trans-shipment we would have to create an island.
The technical part of it would be left to those that deal with this including the [Town and Country Development Planning Office], and the Coastal Zone Management Unit.
Legislation would also have to be enacted, you would have to be considering the employment of more Customs workers, more people to work at the port in terms of the stevedores and so on.
It would be a massive fillip.
This is the project from Jamaica in terms of what they are thinking: in the construction of this island, their trans-shipment facility would employ 5 000 workers.
When it is done, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller is forecasting, then it would employ 10 000 workers. If 10 000 workers were to be employed in Barbados now, our unemployment level would drive close to zero.
That’s the sort of economic fillip such a thing could bring, but we would have to act.
We would need the financing but assessing finance now from international lending institutions would be very expensive, so we would have to deal with sovereigns, possible it could be China or perhaps the Arabs.
Jamaica, The Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, they are there already so we are behind in that sense, but it doesn’t mean that they would have these positions forever because this is a very-fast growing industry.
There are about 15 million 20-foot containers with orders for 40 per cent more; six million containers more is what they are ordering.
The size of the ships are increasing, we can only handle perhaps the sort of ships that come in with about 700 containers on a ship.
We have to expand to really accommodate what the ships are going to go up to, 11 000 and 13 000 containers.
The reason they are doing that, of course, is because it’s cheap, you don’t have to do several trips back and forth. Get one massive container ship, let it go to a hub and then the containers will go where they need to on much smaller ships because
it’s much cheaper in terms of the technology, in terms of the fuel. What is also required is the efficiency.
We need to get into it. This seems so transformative to me, I am surprised that we haven’t basically paid more attention to it.
Dr Troy Lorde is an economics lecturer at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. He shared these views last week at the Cave Hill School of Business’ Big Ideas Forum.