The Barbados Port is offering a Christmas gift of sorts to persons seeking to clear their barrels out of the Bridgetown facility during the hectic season which is already underway.
Chairman of the Barbados Port Inc. (BPI), Senator Lisa Cummins, revealed that several containers were unstuffed over the weekend and a large volume of personal effects are about to be sent out. Additionally she revealed that in the interest of getting the cargo out of the port, a decision was taken that until January 5, 2020, Barbadians will be offered a 50 per cent reprieve on barrel fees and will be waiving storage charges for those affected by recent delays in the system.
“So we want people to be able to come, get their cargo, come and get it out quickly but we are also ensuring that it is cost efficient for them to do so. So 50 per cent off the barrel fees and zero storage charges until January 5.”
She was speaking on the People’s Business on the island’s lone state-owned television station on Sunday on the topic Asycuda Trade Facilitation, where the panel which included Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn sought to clear the air on the Asycuda World system and to respond to queries from the general public and assuring that long waits at the Port should be a thing of the past. Senator Cummins revealed that over the course of 24 hours, 131 containers of cargo were cleared with 77 destined for home-porting cruise ships.
Senator Cummins lamented that a scenario exists where there have been containers cleared since October 15 and have not been collected by their consignees.
“The question for us is why not? We have been calling a lot of these consignees. We have assigned a notification team now, because we don’t understand why these containers remain in the port but they are designated for delivery. And they are over 55 containers.”
She cautioned that those uncollected containers will attract a number of different fees including storage fees if they have been cleared for release. “… because the storage being waived are only associated with delays in the system. If the system has functioned and has completed its process and you have used the port as a storage facility, we will not be waiving these fees,” she asserted.
As it relates to the bustle of the Christmas season, she said this is also the reason why an incentive is being offered.
“We want to be able to expedite this system, we want people to come and clear their barrels. There is a reason why we said we are going to give you the incentive of doing so quickly by having 50 per cent reduction on the barrel fees and we are waiving the storage fees because we want them to be able to come out, so we can make room for the large volume that will continue to come out.”
“Waiving of the storage fees doesn’t mean you can leave them in the port indefinitely. It means you leave them in the port for as long as it takes to have them cleared and to have them released and for the regulatory agencies while they are resolving these challenges with the system coming from multiple areas, that those things would have been completed…. But it doesn’t mean until you get around to it,” she said, adding that in some cases persons are using the port as storage.
Senator Cummins explained that different shipping lines have different demurrage waiving times. “So some will give you five days, some would give you ten. In the port we have a storage fee. We have a five day free period and then anything after that we levy a storage fee.”
While the port does not levy demurrage charges, she noted that failure to collect those containers poses a problem.
“If you are not turning out those containers either for delivery and getting them back as empties or getting them back out to the vessels, because they are not owned by us, they are owed by the shipping line that then needs to refill them to send them somewhere else. The longer they stay here the less business the shipping line is doing so we need to get those containers out of the port.”
“So we have been imploring Barbadians, particularly if you are importers of containers, get in touch with your couriers, get in touch with your brokers, find out if your containers are cleared for release. We have been calling many of them directly,” she said. (JH)