New logistics facility to make Customs clearance easier
Come next years, businesses and householders who normally spend up to a day or longer to clear containers and barrels with personal effects from the port in Kingston, will be able to do so within a few hours from Kingston Wharves’ new total logistics facility.
The port company is investing US$15 million in the state-of-the-art logistics complex, said Kingston Wharves Chief Executive Officer, Grantley Stephenson, noting that it is on track to be completed by May 2017.
Construction of the 162,000 square feet facility is being undertaken by BYD Construction, a Chinese-based firm.
Project manager Keith Rigbye said that when completed, all containers will be taken directly from the wharf to the facility where there will be Jamaica Customs Agency scanners “and everything will be scanned before it goes into storage.”
Rigbye explained that “when the customers come into the customer service hall to process their documents their goods will be taken out of storage and taken into the customs inspection warehouse in the same building. So we can make it a one-stop shop, very efficient and hopefully they can get through in a couple of hours whereas at the moment they use three warehouses on the berth and it can take them all day.”
Speaking to the Financial Gleaner on Thursday during a tour of Kingston Wharves, which included the logistics facility now under construction, the project manager emphasized that “this is to be a new modern facility, the one-stop shop for anybody who’s bringing in small goods into Jamaica.”
Stephenson said the firm was expanding into different areas of logistics, explaining that in order to handle additional business they have had to acquire additional and bigger, more expensive equipment to handle larger ships.
Referring to a Maersk shipment Kingston Wharves comfortably handled two weeks ago because it could not make it to The Bahamas because of damage causes by Hurricane Matthew to the Freeport Terminal, he said “the idea is to continue to grow in that direction while we look at other opportunities for further growth.”
The warehouse activities from the berths at the port terminal, as well as some international logistics business will be relocated to the total logistics facility.
Noting that clearance of barrels, usually sent to families from relatives mainly in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom will be among the warehousing activities that will be relocated to the new facility, Stephenson said:
“What we are moving to is a situation where the barrels will be pre-cleared. So the duty will be determined before the customer gets here and he can pay that online. So when he comes here he just picks up his barrel or whatever and goes. That’s where we are headed.”
The tour also took the media, board members, management and staff to the transshipment car park. “About four to five years ago we started this business of bringing cars here and then we transship them to 23 different destinations in Central American and the Caribbean,” Stephenson said.
Transshipment is handled on behalf of Japanese, Korean and other car carriers, but the main business is for Norwegian firm Hoegh.
“Jamaica has one of the most strategic locations anywhere, comparable perhaps only to Singapore. And you know how they have leveraged their location and that’s what we are seeking to do here,” he said.
Kingston Wharves has now added grain silos to the main port terminal because, according to the Chief Executive, “we are a multi-purpose port. As you see we handle cars, containers, lumber, steel, we handle sulphuric acid, cooking oil, barrels, everything.”
Stephenson said that while they are on the development path, “we are exploring other options with other customers because it’s a natural progression from what we are doing now into distribution of the spare parts, doing value added services and so on.”
Stephenson said one warehouse has already been demolished as part of the process to shift some of the port business to the logistics facility and others are expected to be demolished within the first half of 2017.
Kingston Wharves, he said, has invested about US$30 million over the last 18 months on equipment, purchase of land and other activities and is set to invest significantly more in other phases of the development.
“Our goal is to transform this area into an industrial complex and to take full advantage of the logistics opportunities which exist, transshipment opportunities, not just for containers but for cars arising from the expansion of the Panama Canal,” he said.