A Robust Maintenance Program Needed at Cargo Facility, says Grisha

June 19, 2024 8:29 am

Hon. Grisha Heyliger-Marten, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication (TEATT) and the Port St. Maarten Group of Companies have agreed on the necessity to implement a robust maintenance program at the Cargo facility to enhance operational efficiency, safety, and cost management.

At a meeting held recently, the port made a commitment to prioritize the issue of maintenance and will work closely with the Ministry of TEATT to ensure that its operations align with St. Maarten’s economic and food security needs.

During a working visit to the Cargo facility, Heyliger-Marten emphasized the need for a proactive and systematic maintenance program. “This is crucial to ensure operational efficiency, safety, cost management, and regulatory compliance,” she told Port St. Maarten CEO Alex Gumbs.

Heyliger-Marten and Gumbs discussed the impact of delays on costs, highlighting the fact that extended docking times for cargo ships result in increased port fees, potential demurrage charges, and overall higher operational costs. Such delays reduce the port’s capacity to handle additional vessels, leading to congestion and lost business opportunities.

Moreover, inefficient operations could deter shipping lines from choosing Port St. Maarten for transshipment activities, thus reducing the port’s competitiveness.

The minister pointed out that efficient use of port infrastructure is critical for maximizing throughput and minimizing costs. Faster turnaround times allow for more ships to be serviced, increasing the port’s capacity and revenue.

In addition, Heyliger-Marten said efficient operations enhance resource allocation, reducing idle time and improving productivity. “A well-maintained and efficient port provides a competitive advantage, attracting long-term business from shipping lines,” the minister stressed.

Heyliger-Marten expressed serious concern about the hurricane season, which started officially on June 1, and emphasized that a lack of maintenance at the Cargo facility could exacerbate damage to port facilities in the event of the island being hit by a storm.

“Given the Port’s role as a lifeline for the island, any disruption during the hurricane season could severely impact the importation of essential goods,” the minister noted.

“The safety of nearly one hundred workers in the Port and hundreds of residents nearby is of primary concern to me,” she said. “Ensuring that the Port infrastructure can withstand severe weather events is crucial to safeguarding lives and maintaining operations during and after hurricanes,” she added.

The minister reiterated government’s support in providing the necessary resources for oversight to facilitate the improvements that were discussed. Both parties agreed to schedule follow-up meetings to monitor progress and address any emerging issues.

Photo Caption:

Facing part of Port St. Maarten’s cargo handling equipment, the company’s CEO Alex Gumbs (L) and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication, Grisha Heyliger-Marten (R), discuss cargo facility maintenance.