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Shipping Association of Guyana

Pushing on with port upgrading

The Shipping Association of Guyana (SAG) has declared a determination to complete programmes that were conceived and germinated in the past two years. In this regard, the upgrade and modernisation of Demerara Port will continue to take precedence. 

Strategies for Georgetown Port, the main hub of Guyana’s international trading activities, were stepped up considerably in 2012. Through sustained advocacy by the SAG and deliberations with Central Government, a Port Development Working Group was established. This body immediately went into high gear to identify an appropriate mechanism that would define the ways and means of funding and executing the port development programme.

Desmond Sears, the newly elected
chairman of the SAG, expects the project to be completed in phases over the short to long term.

Noting the importance of the project to the Guyana national economy, he said that when an international port was not as equipped as it should, the inefficiencies affected not only the shippers and private berth operators but also trickled down in higher costs to end-users of imported and exported goods.

Ready to meet demands

“Guyana must be made ready to meet the stringent demands of shippers all around the world for more modern port facilities and efficient operations,”
said Mr. Sears.

The well-ventilated issue of deepening the navigational channel to optimum draught remains top priority, ahead of enhanced pilotage services and vessels. Installation of new navigational aids and assets (including a new fireboat) and advanced technological equipment are equally critical components of the port development programme.

Attracting funding

The Working Group, which includes several government agencies, the Maritime Administration Department and shipping operators, is expected to fully outline the project. This work will guide the process for attracting funding not only for port modernisation but for its sustenance as well as continued collaboration with the owners of other ports (including the Deep Water Harbour now under construction in Berbice county).

The SAG’s proposal to set up a demurrage company remains on its agenda. Preliminary negotiations and consultations that began some five years ago to assess the feasibility and achieve buy-in are to be revisited in 2013. The SAG executive has already determined that such a facility would enable the Association to provide a necessary service to its members and the wider maritime community including small-scale shipping agents, transport logistics operators and shipping lines. The demurrage company will ‘level the playing field locally’ (in relation to it being used in a sales pitch) and will create an efficient computerised tracking system for containers, says the SAG Secretariat.

Intensified training

In tandem with these initiatives are proposals for intensified training and skill development at the intermediary and tertiary levels. The programmes proposed are expected to turn out more efficient marine-related skills for the operation, maintenance and protection of navigational and operational equipment in the channel and berths. Preliminary discussions have been conducted with the Education Ministry in Guyana to encourage the inclusion of maritime-related subjects in the curricula of secondary and vocational training institutes in Guyana. 

SAG intends to continue discussions in 2013 with the Caribbean Maritime Institute (CMI) for collaboration and technical assistance to resuscitate the Maritime Transport and Logistics diploma and degree-level programmes at the University of Guyana.

Meanwhile, the pace of information gathering of skill needs at all levels in the industry is set to accelerate next year. At the beginning of 2012 terminal owners and most medium to large-scale marine operators were asked to complete training needs questionnaires for the SAG. The data is to be collated for the requisite Needs Analysis to plan training programmes. 

Maritime security, another critical component of the SAG’s 2013 agenda, advanced to the level of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2012 as the Association continued to advocate the resuscitation of the Maritime Security Committee and the Port Policing body. This need has in no way diminished and the Association says it plans even stronger advocacy for visible and effective protection of vessels, goods and equipment in port in the year ahead. 

Outreach programme

The Association’s membership drive will also intensify in 2013, propelled by a determination to dispel the erroneous perception that its work is mainly to support large-scale terminal owners and shipping agents. The image-building initiative will focus to a large extent on traders, boat operators and owners and small terminal operators in Berbice and countrywide.

The performance of the maritime industry in Guyana continued to be challenged by a need for greater efficiency. This is one of the motivating factors for the SAG’s ‘outreach programme’ set for the beginning of 2013. Already there has been improved collaboration with organisations in the public and private sectors, especially with the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Customs and Trade Administration (CTA). 

Most organisations across the business spectrum in Guyana have joined the call on the CTA to implement the fully computerised Single Window Automated Processing System (SWAPS). Delays caused by the partly manual system now in place have been costing importers and exporters in time and money. The clamour for the implementation of SWAPS is therefore expected to become louder in the year ahead.