Higher rates for cargo shipments

WILLEMSTAD — Longer waiting periods for container ships in the harbor could lead to higher prices for the consumer. Certainly one container transshipment company is seriously considering to charge a so-called congestion surcharge on top of their normal rates to ship cargo to Curaçao.


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A defect hoisting-crane for loading and unloading container ships is the cause of the long waiting periods in the harbor. Container transshipment company Seatrade has already informed its customers in the Netherlands on their intention to charge a congestion surcharge.

If this actually occurs, it is not inconceivable that the higher rates will be passed on to the wholesale and retail trade by the importers with the consequence that the consumer will have to pay a higher price.
Director Agustin Diaz of Curaçao Ports Authority, which owns the hoisting-cranes in the harbor, realizes the problem in the harbor. It concerns a defect Gentry Crane that was purchased in 1984, but cannot be repaid, as the supplier cannot supply spare parts.
Until now, CPA had always succeeded in repairing the crane themselves, but they are now seriously considering the purchase of a new crane within short, according to Diaz. However, he points out that this regards a substantial investment. In 1984, a new crane cost 14 million guilders, "so the prices will have increased since then", said Diaz.
CPA has two Gentry Cranes and one mobile crane, which is driven by chauffeurs of the stevedore company Curaçao Ports Services (CPS). Even though the container ships have their own crane, there is still the problem of a backlog in handling the ships for which CPA is still being held responsible, said Diaz.

Director Robert van Heulen of Dammers Ships Agencies, which is Seatrade’s agent on Curaçao, confirms that there are indications to charge a possible surcharge op top of the normal rates.
For that matter, it is not the first time that Seatrade has announced its intentions to charge a surcharge, but it seems that these intentions are now more serious.

Each additional day in the harbor, will cost the owner approx. 15,000 to 18,000 dollars. Van Heulen said that they advise against a rate increase and will inform their customers accordingly, in view of the fact that higher costs are least excepted in the local market where the prices of products are already high. In addition, the market for container ships already suffers from the international financial crisis, and higher rates could worsen the situation for a container transshipment company. However, the decision to increase the rates because a certain route is no longer profitable is up to the container transshipment company itself, according to Van Heulen.