Super Value Chief Slams New Port For Inefficiency
Barely a week since shipping companies moved over to Arawak Cay, a top food retailer is making his displeasure known regarding operations at the new $83 million port.
Rupert Roberts, the owner of Super Value, said extra staffing requirements and certain inefficiencies are taking a toll on his business.
“It’s easier to get in and out of Fox Hill prison than down there. We have to put more staff down there. That’s an extra cost,” he explained. “We are big customers and we don’t like this.”
The comments from the supermarket chief come shortly after Michael Maura Jr., the CEO of APD Limited, laid out his position on the recently launched Nassau Container Port (NCP).
He refuted claims that tariff fees have risen for businesses on the island, pointing out that stakeholders are paying less now than they did six years ago. At the time, the introduction of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) and the onset of the financial crisis bought freight prices down to unusually low levels.
He also insisted that the island now has a 21st century port that efficiently centralizes all shipping operations, which will result in cost benefits for businesses.
However, under the current system, Roberts told Guardian Business that operations are still “scattered all over the island”.
He said full consolidation might be in the plans, but in the present, that pledge has yet to come to fruition.
“You now have to put someone on the dock, down at Customs, and then the Health Department. They are increasing my staff and expenses,” he said.
Before the rise of NCP, there were several docks in New Providence of unloading goods. Roberts said now there is just one gate to service the same flow of goods.
“If they had six gates before, they should have put up six gates at Arawak Cay. We the merchants are going to have to complain. I think I should have some say in the port, where my goods come from and how they treat us,” he added.
Super Value’s warehouse manager, in an interview with Guardian Business, also expressed frustration at the one gate. At the moment, he felt the new port actually made operations slower than in the past.
Trucks arriving before 4 p.m. are often turned away, he noted, leaving products on the dock that would have gone into the stores that night.
“Another problem, is you reach the front of the line, but if your cargo isn’t off the boat yet you have to go to the back of line,” he explained.
“They don’t allow you to wait on the dock anymore.”
Both the warehouse manager and Roberts agreed that there is a sense the port wasn’t quite ready to be opened. While they are skeptical about operations at NCP, they conceded that it could simply be going through some growing pains.
Earlier this month, Tropical Shipping and Atlantic Caribbean Line (ACL) started to shift operations over to Arawak Cay. Guardian Business understands that this process is still ongoing.
The port has hired more than 100 employees and minor construction is ongoing, with $13 million still to be invested in the project.
“We have invested $82 million in a port facility this island has never seen,” Maura said. “We’ll be able to commit to the market and make it an efficient facility. We have a port that can take care of the needs of Nassau for the next 40 years.”
NCP’s official grand opening was canceled yesterday due to bad weather.
The Nassau Guardian