No customs clearance for Japanese relief supplies

A month after nearly $2 million worth of disaster relief equipment arrived here from Japan, the emergency items are still stuck up in the Bridgetown Port awaiting customs clearance.

The revelation was made here on Tuesday night by Japanese Ambassador to Barbados Teruhiko Shinada, who said that on the heels of the recent hurricane devastation in neighbouring Caribbean island, his country was hoping to hand over the significant amount of equipment to Barbados “as soon as possible” to help with its own disaster risk management.

The shipment includes tarpaulins, lighting fixtures and generators as well as other emergency items, and during an official reception marking the birthday of the Emperor of Japan the ambassador appeared eager to have them cleared by customs, even though he acknowledged that “it takes time” to complete such authorization.

“The equipment arrived the beginning of November. So it is about one month,” he later explained to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of the event attended by several other diplomats, as well as Government officials, international business representatives, academics and members of the media.

Asked if he was confident they would be out of the port before the New Year, Shinada said “it depends on the customs”, adding “I heard the Ministry of Finance is working on that and I hope that the procedure will finish as soon as possible”.

Shinada said once cleared, the items would be handed over to the Department of Emergency Management (DEM).

“It is of course good that the DEM can get those equipment as soon as possible. Fortunately the hurricane season is now over, so we can be more relaxed, but I hope as soon as possible we will be finished,” he said.

This is the first significant shipment of grant aid from Japan to Barbados.

While stressing that Japan was keen to assist Barbados in the areas of marine environment protection and natural disaster risk management, he also disclosed to Barbados TODAY that a second shipment of disaster relief was on the way. This shipment, he said, consisted of four vehicles for rescue operations and “should arrive in Bridgetown within this month”.

During the reception held at the Accra Beach Hotel, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Steven Blackett did not comment on the stalled shipment, but said the posting of resident Japanese diplomat in Barbados since 2016 has served as a strong signal of the friendship that the two countries shared, adding that since then there has been an increase in the number of Japanese visitors to the island.

However, he did not reveal the numbers.

Blackett, who is the Minister of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development, said Japanese officials continued to make efforts “to ensuring that the Japanese culture is both evident and understood in Barbados”.

He pledged Barbados’ continued cooperation with Japan, adding that “on this current trajectory there will be many more speakers of the Japanese language in and from Barbados”.

18 Responses to No customs clearance for Japanese relief supplies

  1. just observing December 13, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I do hope that once released, a generator would be given to all schools desinated as CategoryOne Emergency Shelters. Shelter Managers have been requesting them for years now. It will be interesting to see what is done with these donated items.

  2. Saga Boy December 14, 2017 at 1:06 am

    I hope that this is not Another example of incompetent and uncaring public servants not doing their jobs.

  3. Tony Webster December 14, 2017 at 4:53 am


  4. beyond da eyes December 14, 2017 at 5:06 am

    Nothing don’t just happened . A price comes with every thing don’t b 2 fast to judge remember wat da late Mr Barrow said always keep dat in mind.

  5. Ian December 14, 2017 at 7:01 am

    If I were them I’d be sorely tempted to ship it out to another island…….

  6. Sheron Inniss December 14, 2017 at 7:32 am

    So much for good service. A lot of them can go home. Steupse

  7. hcalndre December 14, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I hope disaster equipment would be find its self where its destined for.

  8. roger headley December 14, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Ah, the usual Bajan pronouncements without knowing the details. What intellect!

  9. Caswell Franklyn December 14, 2017 at 8:52 am

    This story is so unfair to customs officers. Everybody wants to attack these defenceless public workers, even on things over which they have no control.

    Now the Japanese ambassador has joined the fray, rather than be a diplomat and do things the diplomatic way. If he perceives that his embassy has a problem with a government department, the diplomatic thing to do would be to complain to the Ministry of Foreign Affair, certainly not the press.

    The ambassador is quoted as saying that he heard that the Ministry of Finance is working on that. If he had behaved like a diplomat and consult with Foreign Affairs, he would have been made aware that Customs cannot proceed to clear his goods , unless, permission is granted by the Ministry of Finance.

    Welcome to Barbados Mr. Ambassador but I would suggest that you behave like a diplomat and not air your problems publicly, especially when you do not know or understand the factual situation.

    • milli watt December 14, 2017 at 10:23 am

      @ caswell how dare you try to school the ambassador about going to the press. Of all people you should know better given you got all the numbers on speed dial

  10. milli watt December 14, 2017 at 10:22 am

    you got to watch that crowd suspect they looking to carry way de goods in dat port……………….WELCOME TO BARBADOS

  11. showneil December 14, 2017 at 10:57 am

    The items will be cleared to form part of the election process handouts. That is not difficult to ascertain. Politics is politics.

  12. Ivana Cardinale December 14, 2017 at 11:43 am

    This is unbelievable.

  13. Fallon Best December 14, 2017 at 11:52 am

    This nonsense that is reported happening in customs and then it is balled on top dealing with old fashioned shed 4 culture and processes all the time. While I am not indicting them personally. It has to be realised that Barbados is an island with x 1 port and a very very small customs dept. They need to operate at the top of their game with double and triple rredundancy of critical path tasks. It is simply too many stories going around of businesses waiting days and taking longer to clear customs of items than it takes on sea to ship items to Barbados… Then hours and days to get item out of shed 4. This has to stop! Or start by gutting the top! Implement ISO service standards in customs and also Port operations. The reported experiences and reputation threatens the business environment , quality of life index, business cost and small enterprises. Most small businesses have to do business with shed 4 and they need to raise their game up to higher service standards and a 3pl software for software assisted mapped location of items.

  14. Helicopter(8P) December 14, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    All Barbadians should welcome the great humanitarian support that the Japanese people have aided us. The Japanese are a tremendously courteous people and would go to any extent on their home land to assist foreigners in despair!

  15. chris hill December 14, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    this is not the first time goods for relief and humanitarian effort get held up. then the gear just disappears. ohh generators, tarpolens, other everyday and basic goods. and its election time, check the DLP political meetings and there will be japanese writings on all the gears.

  16. Nathaniel Samuels December 14, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    Caswell, take it easy. He mentioned the Ministry of Finance so we must understand that clearance is being sought. i am sure Chris is trying to figure out how he can exact a few pounds of flesh from that shipment as the country is cash strapped.

  17. Alex Alleyne December 14, 2017 at 7:20 pm



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