Port aims to attract more shipping lines to A&B

By Makeida Antonio

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Antigua and Barbuda will continue to do everything possible to attract more shipping companies to the country’s port, according to the boss of the Antigua and Barbuda Ports Authority (ABPA).

Port manager Darwin Telemaque said the decision by major Crowley Shipping to suspend services to parts of the region, including Antigua and Barbuda, has had a negative impact on port revenues.

Crowley announced last month it was cutting services to the Leeward Islands, citing pandemic pressures. The company has served the region for five decades, generating revenue through various port fees and payment for the use of local amenities.

“The cargo that Crowley was carrying will go on another shipping line that will enter Antigua. From this point of view, there is really no shortfall. However, we don’t have Crowley, which means the port has lost revenue,” he said.

“Crowley, the ship itself, has brought revenue to the port and we don’t have any. When the ship arrived, we had used equipment that we don’t have now.

“From that perspective, what we’re trying to replace is inbound freight management. We want to have additional lines coming into the port generating revenue,” Telemaque told Observer in an interview.

While other ports in the region must also navigate new waters in search of new shipping lines to come as others continue to depart, Telemaque assured residents that the Port of Antigua is exploring methods that will strengthen the relationship with existing lines.

He said he believed the move would also boost finances.

“As a port, Antigua is looking to find new options. We are looking at those who are doing business with us now to see if they can expand what they are doing thereby generating more revenue and this may be in the form of transshipment services which we can attract from some of the other lines, may – be a direct service to Antigua. Those are some of the things we want to do with the other lines to try and get more business here,” he said.

Telemaque also revealed some avenues the port is considering to make Antigua and Barbuda more attractive to shipping companies.

These include improved equipment, modernization of the technology used and an overall positive change in the general attitude of port employees.

“In addition to the beautiful layout and beautiful concrete we have, we now need to be more attractive in how we provide service to service providers who bring cargo here,” he said.

“We want to give the ships the impression that we care about them. We want to unload their cargo faster, we want to reload them faster, we want to show them that our equipment is working.

“We have some challenges with our crane; we want to get a new one. These are things we should be looking at to make ourselves more attractive,” Télémaque added.