Thursday, 28 February 2013 02:30
By Donna-Marie McIntosh
Antigua St. John's - In the midst of sister-isle Barbuda’s multi-million dollar project to build and facilitate the port, reports to Caribarena last week claimed that the Antigua port was poorly managed, over staffed and operating with less equipment and machinery than required.
According to the Antigua Port Authority mission statement, it “strives to be the best Port Administrator regionally and beyond, offering the highest quality service for all port users, at the same time creating maximum satisfaction for its staff.”
It is common knowledge that that the port faces issues whereby the institution is short of cash and overstaffed. With previous strikes and threatening union action taken, there has been a complete failure in creating maximum satisfaction for its staff. Currently, the actual reality and reflection in regard to the mission is a parody.
One well placed source reported that “The crane in use is defective, it takes fourteen buckets of oil to get it going and it constantly leaks the oil being put in. Out of twelve forklifts, only around two are working. The warehouse and the port rely on the machinery. The money being spent on so much oil could be money spent on the port. Money is being lost when the port needs to be fixed.”
Although, according to Mr. Jean Gould, who is in charge of equipment maintenance at the port, the reports made by the source were “completely untrue.”
However, in contrast to Mr. Gould’s statement, a further two sources, who at this time wish to remain anonymous have also spoken out.
“As far as operations at the port, one long blade forklift is working and only 2 small forklifts are in operation. There are two out of the five yard stackers working, which are the machines that pick up the containers and put them together. The port crane is working intermittently. It takes 14 buckets of oil to get the crane working due to the oil leakage. The oil is all over the yard and it’s a mess with each operation of the crane,” the source said.
The source also added “the port is overstaffed and has some serious maintenance issues.”
It is also alleged that “the right numbers of forklifts are not working, and the port should have two or three port rigs. They only have one and the shipping agents are providing their own rigs. The port is definitely overstaffed and after the election, changes will have to be made.”
When Gould was asked to confirm how many forklifts were actually in operation, he could not give a fixed number or make an estimate. He did comment that “I only fix the equipment, so I cannot confirm that, but I can say that what you were told is not true.”
Port Authority General Manager, Agatha Dublin spoke to Caribarena regarding the reports made.
“We have a situation where we are waiting on the manufacturer (of the crane) to send tools and parts… We are facing other challenges, and the current situation is not the standard protocol,” she said.
Regarding the forklifts and the staff working with an inappropriate amount of functional equipment, Dublin stated “the information from my mechanics is that there are more than enough forklifts working. There are no interruptions to operations in regards to lack of forklifts available.
There is an operation where some agencies use their own tow truck (port rig). I am not quite sure why this is being made an issue, when in order to do this the agencies would have to seek permission to do so. And there have been no requests made, not in recent times.”
Speaking on the matter of the port being overstaffed the GM confirmed that “the situation has not really changed.”