On Friday, December 9th, 2022 the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) was invited to tour Kingston Freeport Terminal Limited (KFTL) following discussions about the congestion at the Port of Kingston. For several months, there has been increased displeasure and disappointment within the productive sector caused by the severe backlogs in the clearance of goods. The JMEA took the initiative to ascertain the way forward in relieving the congestion to better serve our members.
The KFTL tour was led by CEO, Capt. Jędrzej Mierzewski and COO, Carlos Cabrera. In responding to a question asked by President of the JMEA, John Mahfood on how dire the situation at the Port of Kingston was, Cabrera noted that the issue is stemming from the new policy implemented by the Jamaica Customs Agency (JCA) to increase surveillance which requires an increase in the level of inspection of containers. Along with the newly implemented policy, other factors contributing to the congestion includes an excess of 1500 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) in the domestic yard, and containers being left at the terminal by importers until storage at warehouses or factories becomes available.
Cabrera however shared that KFLT has been extremely combative in clearing the delays. Providing further insight, he shared that “the backlog has been reduced by 60% and by December 12th or 13th things should go back to normal. Hours have been extended up until the 23rd of December to faciliate the holiday period and aid in the delays.” Progressive investments have also been acquired in the form of additional scanners; new straddle carriers were also serviced and parts installed. This has resulted in all 15 straddle carriers being in full operation as of the first week of December.
The JMEA will be actively working with KFTL to identify solutions that will reduce the amount of containers being stored by importers. The Association is also pleased to share with our members and the general public that KFTL is taking the appropriate course of action to better serve local manufacturers, distributors, and the public. During regular operations 30 to 40 containers are inspected per day however, inspection of containers have increased by 20%. There have also been a 30% increase in labour at the warehouse and 25% more operational hours. The JMEA remains committed to the advocacy of its members to ensure that their business productions are not affected during this festive season.
The tour was supported by several members of the JMEA Board of Directors, including President John Mahfood and Executive Director Kamesha Blake, members of the JMEA secretariat, as well as representatives from the Port Authority of Jamaica, and the VM Pensions Management.
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Marketing & Public Relations Officer, JMEA