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JMA says 'country being held at ransom' amid KFT issues

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA) is calling for opening hours at the Kingston Freeport Terminal (KFT) to be extended throughout the weekend, following an impasse with haulage contractors which resulted in a major backlog at the port.

In a release yesterday, JMA expressed dissatisfaction with the handling of the matter by the terminal operators.

Deputy president of the association Richard Pandohie said the backlog has severely affected members of the manufacturing and exporting community and he recommends that terminal operations go beyond the promised opening today to also include tomorrow.

Pandohie further proposed that the Kingston Wharves be engaged by KFT for the clearing of domestic containers by manufacturers.

Yesterday, he called on minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Horace Chang to “aggressively take a hold of the situation in the interest of the country”.

Operations at the port were at a standstill since Tuesday, after truckers withdrew their services to protest what they said is the long time it takes to clear containers from the port. On Thursday, truckers returned to work following an agreement between the Port Trailer Haulage Association and KFT.

Nonetheless, JMA lamented that the conditions had not improved amidst promises that gate operations would resume and opening hours extended to expedite the clearance of domestic containers.

“To a large extent, these commitments have not been sufficient in resolving the issue. Some are not being met, and there have been reports that operations are being intermittently paused. The country is being held at ransom, affecting business and stifling growth of the industry,” Pandohie said.

“The situation is untenable, and must not be allowed to continue. As a country that strives to be a logistics hub, our port eco-system needs to be efficient at all stages, and KFT needs to live up to its responsibility in this regard,” he said.