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Nassau Container Port

Fresh approach transforms cargo handling efficiency

Caribbean Maritime turns the spotlight on one of the region’s success stories – a container handling operation that has been transformed by a new location and a different way of financing port development.


This is Nassau Container Port (NCP) and the associated Gladstone Freight Terminal, set up in 2009 when container handling was moved from its historical and increasingly unsuitable Bay Street location in the city to a spacious new site at Arawak Cay.

The move resulted in the creation of a new 56.6 acre purpose-built container terminal and the 15-acre freight terminal, leaving the City of Nassau free to develop the prime waterfront land vacated by the former cargo operations.

The operator of NCP is Arawak Port Development (APD). Here, the company’s president and CEO, Mike Maura, and its CFO, Dion Bethell, provide a detailed update on the facility and its remarkable progress and productivity.

Dion BethellMike Maura

Caribbean Maritime: The terminal is very impressively ranked No 1 out of 24 for productivity in the Caribbean. How has this been achieved in such a short space of time?

Dion Bethell:  We have introduced and developed a culture based on operational excellence through people development and technology.  We ensure that all personnel receive training and the necessary tools to effectively carry out their job functions while not compromising safety. We have not participated in the CSA Port of the Year award program, but we hope to in the near future.

Caribbean Maritime: What advice would APD give to other Caribbean terminals looking to improve productivity?

Mike Maura: Today, ports throughout the Caribbean are faced with a variety of challenges including old terminal infrastructure, inadequate systems technology, outdated freight handling equipment, insufficient funding and inefficient operating procedures. The degree to which these issues affect a port will vary. Government-owned ports impacted by many of these challenges may wish to consider a public-private partnership (PPP) which can deliver both funding and expertise.

Once a PPP is developed, funding is provided that aligns with affordable terms, a design supported by efficient equipment and technology is produced, and the project is completed; the port and its customers will likely realize improved productivity. The Nassau Container Port is the product of a successful PPP in The Bahamas. Ports that are primarily challenged with vessels that exceed the operating capability of the shore cranes will obviously need to invest in larger modern crane technology. APD has found that Liebherr mobile harbor cranes perform very well and the support provided from the company’s Miami office is exceptional. Ports which have both adequate facilities and freight equipment may find that a thorough review of their operating procedures will offer great opportunity for improved productivity and safety. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be dynamic, adjusting to changes in customer demand, vessel size/load and their schedules.

Caribbean Maritime: What was the terminal’s teu throughput in 2014 and what are your forecasts for 2015?

Dion Bethell: Actuals for financial year 2014 were 134,000 teu; the forecast for the remainder of financial year 2015 are 140,000 teu as at 31 March.  (The forecast for financial year 2015 includes nine months of actuals and three months of budget.)

Caribbean Maritime: What is happening to the 20 acres of land in Nassau that was freed up by the move to Arawak Cay?

Mike Maura: The city of Nassau is embarking on a redevelopment initiative. Over the past year a large upscale marina has been developed and we anticipate a $300 million renovation to the Hilton property, which sits west of the vacated waterfront property. Developers are working with the Government of The Bahamas to introduce new building legislation to facilitate a mix of new retail, entertainment and residential properties.

Caribbean Maritime: Does the terminal also handle wheeled and other types of cargo?

Dion Bethell:  Yes, our terminal does handle rolling stock and other cargo types.

Caribbean Maritime: Does APD have any plans to purchase new cargo handling equipment? If so, what equipment?

Dion Bethell:  There are no current plans to purchase any new cargo handling during financial year 2015.

Caribbean Maritime: How are containers handled at the present time? Is this with mobile cranes and ship’s gear?

Dion Bethell:  Containers are handled by a combination of mobile harbor cranes from and to the vessel/apron. Occasionally we would use ship’s gear.

Caribbean Maritime: Is there a domestic feeder operation from Arawak Cay serving other Bahamian islands? If so, how does this work?

Dion Bethell: There is a domestic feeder operation from Arawak Cay. 
Containers may arrive on an international carrier destined for one of the other Bahamian islands. Once the container arrives, a feeder vessel may call at the port to transport the cargo to its final destination.

Caribbean Maritime: Has the sale of shares in APD been a success and been well received locally?

Dion Bethell:  The sale of shares in APD has been a tremendous success.  The APD IPO was the most successful IPO in the history of The Bahamas.  The IPO was oversubscribed by approximately US$ 33 million and resulted in some 11,000 shareholders. APD has the largest shareholder base of any public company in The Bahamas.

Mike Maura: At the time of the IPO in January 2011 the offering price was US$ 10 per share. In April 2015 shares were trading at US$ 15.85.