Too many customs checks, complains shipping company
A local shipping company Thursday complained about lengthy delays in clearing goods through the Bridgetown Port, while pointing to the current system of inspection used by the Customs & Excise Department.
Island Manager of Tropical Shipping Andre Gibson told Barbados TODAY he did not see the need for customs to search 80 per cent of all containers before releasing them, arguing that it was now common practice in many countries to search only 25 per cent of all containers.
“What the customs use in those instances is intelligence and they use technology. They use container-scanning equipment, which we have the capability here for,” said Gibson, while stressing the need for local authorities to follow suit.
“We need to look at better leveraging the technology and better leveraging the intelligence that we have to facilitate the flow of cargo,” he said.
And while acknowledging that there would be security concerns, Gibson suggested that customs would still retain the right to carry out random searches.
He however argued that companies which have been shipping the same commodity for years from known suppliers should be allowed to leave the Bridgetown Port without being searched every time since they were deemed “low-risk”.
“So you may have a consignee getting 12 shipments from a particular shipper per year. You may at random do two or three [searches] just to make sure that everything is above board. You have customers that you have never had incidents for years . . . paper work is always correct, the container has never been compromised, but still they have to have their cargo inspected every time and I think that is where we need to work a little smarter and not harder,” Gibson told Barbados TODAY.
He stressed the importance of a faster customs turnaround, saying, “as a logistics company something we always try for is speed [since] you are trying to keep the cargo moving to its ultimate destination, which is the consignee, and that is what they want. They want their cargo in a short as possible period so they can turn it into a good or service in accordance to what their business model is.”
Efforts to reach the Acting Comptroller of Customs for a comment Thursday were unsuccessful.
However, despite the challenges Gibson said business remains “relatively stable” for his company, which currently employs 14 people.
A subsidiary of the Seattle-based Saltchuk Company, Tropical Shipping has been operating here for more than 40 years. Gibson added that the company’s performance currently mirrored the overall economy in that there have been “slight gains in the last few years”.
However, based on the high volume of containers imported into the country and the number of projects which are currently in the pipeline, he was confident that the economy was “moving in the right direction and that the turbulent waters of the financial recession are behind us”.