The Dominica Air and Sea Ports Authority (DASPA) has refused to take the blame for a decision by Shipping Company, Geest Line, to change its schedule of calls to Dominica for the delivery and discharge of cargo.
Geest said in a letter to shippers earlier this week, that congestion at the Woodbridge Port in Dominica is unacceptable and that it would be coming to Dominica monthly, for delivery and discharge of cargo and fortnightly, only for container repatriation.
The company attributed its decision to “service issues” at the port and said it had been “instructed by DASPA to vacate the birth… although the vessel had not completed operation /discharge.”
It said DASPA’s decision had caused a ‘huge expense’ to Geest Line but more importantly, it had delayed customers’ cargoes that will remain on board for over a month.
However, in a statement, DASPA responded by pointing out that the Geest Line vessel which was scheduled to be off-loaded from 7:00 am on Monday October 15, 2018, was delayed by thirteen and a half hours and did not arrive at the Woodbridge Bay until 8:30 pm that day.
“A car carrier vessel which was scheduled to work at 8:00pm that same day was rescheduled to work on Tuesday October 16, 2018 at 7:00 pm to facilitate the off-loading and loading of the Geest vessel,” the DASPA statement said. “The Geest Line vessel captain was informed on arrival by the Port Pilot that that the berth was booked for another vessel at 7:00 am the following day, Tuesday 16th September, 2018.”
According to DASPA, the Geest Line vessel started discharging operations from 9:45 pm on Monday until 6:45 am the following day but there were challenges which hampered the discharge operations.
These included poor stacking of containers on the vessel, refusal by the vessel’s Chief Mate to shift three containers to facilitate a more speedy operation and intermittent rain.
DASPA also reported that eleven containers had to be shifted ashore and reloaded to facilitate the discharge of the break-bulk cargo and containers.
“The management of the Dominica Air & Sea Ports Authority did everything possible to assist the Geest Line vessel despite its lateness and the challenges experienced during that night operation to discharge its cargo for Dominica during the eight and a half hour period allotted,” DASPA said in its statement.
DASPA said it offered to further delay the car ship that was expected to berth at 7:00 am to allow the Geest vessel to resume and complete discharge of the remainder of its cargo. However, according to the Authority, the vessel captain chose to sail to Colombia, the next port of call.
“The Management of DASPA wishes to express regret to the consignees that their cargo were not discharged during the allotted time alongside the Woodbridge Bay Port on that day but the decision to leave port (Dominica) and to sail to Colombia with the cargo on board, was that solely of the Geest Line Management,” DASPA stated.
Geest Line has said that while the current situation is no longer acceptable, it will be reviewed once the port congestion issues are resolved.