With several improvements already made and more on the way, the Barbados Port Inc. is on its way to becoming the most recognized port in the Eastern Caribbean.
That is according to Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy Kirk Humphrey, who together officially opened the Port’s spanking new administrative building, ‘Cube Blue’, this morning.
The state-of-the-art, $20 million, three-storey building, which was built by Caribbean Consultants Ltd, will also be used to house the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy, currently located in Charnocks, Christ Church.
Humphrey said the completion of the project, which began in January 2019, was pushed back several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister said the Bridgetown Port continued to be a major artery for Barbados’ economic activity and therefore constant improvements were necessary.
Humphrey said that as of mid-September, dwell time (the time that cargo containers spend within temporary storage facilities in transit) at the Port had been reduced from eight or nine days to three days; truck turnaround time which previously hovered at 45 minutes was down to 30 minutes, and for the first time in history there was an established protocol of joint cargo inspection by the Ministry of Commerce, Port Health and Customs agencies, which further enhanced the times and cargo to customers.
“One of the things that we said is that the Port has to become more efficient and that it does not make us feel good that of 190 countries or so, Barbados was ranked 129th in the Doing Business index, and that when it comes to trade across borders, which is what really is a more reflection of the Port, Barbados was 132nd. So we were worse off when it comes to how we were ranked in terms of what we do at the Port.
“We felt that was not good enough and there have been a number of improvements,” Humphrey said.
He said he was happy with the progress of the maritime single window as well as the establishment of a haul out facility.
Humphrey disclosed that one improvement that was necessary was the implementation of uniformed opening hours for operations at the Port.
“The idea that persons have to wait for the public service to get its act together, in terms of being able to have one start time, we must go there so that when people come into the Port they know that they are coming and that business starts at X time. We have to go there because that’s what efficiency is,” he maintained.
In her brief comments, Prime Minister Mottley said it was her vision for the Port to be the most recognized in the region.
“I want to signal that it is this Government’s intention – with work with all, from the workers to the management, to the board to the stakeholders, to the security persons – to ensure that the Bridgetown Port becomes literally the port that is most recognized in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean. But for that to happen, it means we will have a lot of catching up to do,” she said.
Chief executive officer David Jean-Marie explained that staff at the Port had outgrown the old 41-year-old building where they are currently housed.
He revealed that the new building is owned 50 per cent by the Barbados Port Inc and 50 per cent by the Defined Benefit Pension Fund.
Jean-Marie said the Port floated a $100 million bond and the proceeds were used to pay for the building.
New chairman of the Barbados Port Inc Peter Odle described ‘Cube Blue’ as a “triumph of timeless, modern design….”
He said it contained photovoltaic installations on the roof, providing 40 per cent of the power required to operate the building.
He said it was also outfitted with energy efficient lighting solutions and water saving technologies to minimize carbon footprint.