Antigua's deep water port redevelopment - A new port for the 21st century Caribbean.
In many island nations the port is critical to the survival of all citizens, and Antigua and Barbuda is no exception. A huge proportion of the daily food supply is imported along with nearly 100% of products and materials critical to daily life.
In Antigua, the location of the port lends itself to expansion and the Antiguan government have very cleverly reviewed the potential of the surrounding infrastructure and identified the opportunity to redevelop the neighbouring real estate to support Antigua's vision of becoming a major transhipment hub in the Caribbean. In doing so, it will ensure day to day operations are efficiently run and create a new business environment in which service providers will have to provide quality competitive service delivery in order to succeed.
Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of the Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority, Darwin Telemaque, is driven by the need to improve efficiencies and be-able to transform the port into a revenue centre for the island. During his tenure as CEO the port has won a number of Best Port of the Year accolades. 'In an island nation where the port is so valuable to daily life, transforming its efficiency is a key focus of the port team along with the knowledge that in the long term the port can benefit the citizens by creating economic activity which will ultimately lead to a growth in the economy.' 'To realise its full potential, aside from changing the remit of the port from dealing with cargo to being able to deal with containerisation in volume, the challenges of equipment issues, lack of training and lack of human capacity development have to be dealt with, and over time that is our plan" Mr. Telemaque has said.
In terms of the new port development project, which is being funded by China's Exim Bank, the focus is very much on developing the efficiencies needed to reach the goal of logistics and transport hub of the Caribbean. Separation of the container freight station and the warehouse, which is the transit shed, will lead to an increase in efficiency and service levels and provide a safer working environment. Economies of scale will allow cost reductions and an improvement in Antigua's competitiveness.
The transformation to a transhipment hub will see expanded space for containers as well as the ability to store seven or eight times the current capacity, something not currently possible due to operational safety concerns and space. In reviewing the plans, there are no geographic restrictions in growth due to its strategic position north of the city of St. John's. Incoming vessels will not have issues of pedestrian traffic, warehouse traffic or trucks crossing through the operational areas. In addition, top security equipment provided by the Chinese government will see pallet scanners, container scanners, handheld scanners and X-Ray container machines being installed which will have a major positive impact on border control and hence strengthen national security.
The new structure will provide the possibility of a business environment where ocean transport intermediaries, regulated by the Port Authority, will have the opportunity to act as independent service providers. The only port in the Eastern Caribbean with an operational structure of this kind and a competitive environment within the port, will also allow Antigua to provide logistics support and distribution of goods to nearby smaller nations of which there are nine or ten.
The port authority CEO sees the port transformation as a major stepping stone to efficiency improvements for the island. 'Transforming operations in the port will have a major impact on business efficiencies on the island, it's what drives us on a daily basis', summarises Darwin Telemaque.