Empty shelves due to defective container crane

ORANJESTAD — The defective container crane in the harbor of Oranjestad has substantial consequences.


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Shop shelves are already becoming empty and transport companies are confronted with mounting costs. Employers’ organization ATIA raised the alarm with the government for a solution for this ‘unacceptable situation’. In any case, they expect a large number of claims from duped companies.

The container crane in the harbor of Oranjestad has been out of order since last week Tuesday and will probably not become operative for the time being. ATIA understood from harbor authority APA that the repairs will presumably take several months, and at least several months will have gone by before a new crane arrives on Aruba. In the meantime, ships are unloading containers with their own hoisting cranes, the so-called Reach Stackers. The ships without an own hoisting crane are diverted to the harbor in Curaçao. According to ATIA, this does not only cause a delay but there is also the risk of certain trades withdrawing from Aruba entirely. "Aruba could lose part of their harbor activities to Curaçao."

In a letter to the Council of Ministers, the employers’ organization therefore demands a solution as soon as possible. In another letter, ATIA requests their members to make an inventory of the sustained damage due to the problems with harbor crane.

Mounting costs
Stephen Daal, Chairman of ATIA also warns for surcharges from shipping companies. "The inoperative crane unsettles their itinerary, which will cost the shipping companies." The employers’ organization therefore expects they will introduce a surcharge on freight for Aruba in order to pass on the costs. Moreover, personnel of stevedore Astec are working overtime since the crane is out of order. ‘Manually’ unloading the containers takes longer and is more labor-intensive. "It might require extra personnel and the question is ‘who will pay these costs’", says Daal. According to him, bringing a container via Curaçao to Aruba will cost 1500 florins per container. Companies will probably have to pass these costs on to the consumers, Daal stated upon being asked. "What would you do as a company?"

Gantry crane
Aruba Ports Authority owns the hoisting crane of the container harbor. This more than 27-year old harbor crane has been a thorn in the flesh of trade union UPA (Union Portuario Arubano) for years now. The trade union is not pleased with the crane’s safety and refused to operate it any longer. The last drop making the cup run over regarded an incident last week when a piece of steel had broken off the crane and fallen down. Fortunately, no one was injured. Nevertheless, two employees were seriously injured in a previous incident two years ago, when a bolt connecting a container to the hoisting crane had snapped.