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Dec 10, 2015

The Effects of the Impasse at the Port on Businesses

The strike by stevedores has been called off and they are back on the job. But the four-day standoff with the Port of Belize over retirement packages has had dire consequences for businesses large and small. The disruptions in operation were hurting the bottom line for businesses and the livelihood of stevedores. Duane Moody set out early this morning before the strike was called off and got the take from business houses affected by the impasse.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

For a child, not getting a gift this year for Christmas would be the worst thing to happen to them. That’s because businesses across Belize have been unable to receive their products since stevedores went on strike on Monday. Since then, one vessel, the Caribe Navigator sailed away without offloading while another has been moored near English Caye, pending the resolution of an impasse between the stevedores and the management of the Port. Sidasheari/Dis and Dat is a fairly new company that has been providing Belizeans with services as well as one-of-a-kind products. The strike is having an effect on their business.

 

Heather Johnson

Heather Johnson, Proprietor, Sidasheari Limited

“There are many companies like ours, Sidasheari, that accepts freight out of the U.S. and bring it in for Belizean citizens; businesses as well as individuals. The way that it is impacting us right now is that we have Christmas basically in our hands for people who have been waiting all year, they’ve saved their monies; they made purchases at Black Friday and they asked us to bring those freight in. When the ships aren’t able to dock and unload, that brings a different level of stress because what it does is you have customers who are now trying to figure out what their other options are as it relates to their money that is currently tied up. Up until a few minutes ago, we didn’t really know what was going to happen with the new ship that’s sitting outside in the water. But it is our hope that they could come to some kind of resolution so that we can get these people’s goods off the ship.”

 

Maheias United, a construction supplies company in the city, has been drastically affected by the strike. They are losing monies by the day and have no other options to get their products in.

 

Carla Hart

Carla Hart, Director, Maheias United

“We import a lot of what we use in our construction services. We have sealants, stains, color hardeners for the decorative construction industry as well as for the construction industry for a whole on the ship. So that not getting here at this point and not knowing when it is going to get here does affect us just like it’s affecting many other businesses.”

 

For Santiago Castillo Limited, while they have some twelve containers on both ships, they are confident that they have products in stock to provide to their customers.

 

Santiago Castillo Jr., Director, San Cas Group

“Between both ships—the one that went back and the one that’s on its way to Belize, Santiago Castillo Limited has twelve containers of merchandise. It has not really affected us yet because we still have in stock. The longer it takes the more it will affect us. We are hoping that this impasse is resolved.”

 

The financial implications are great for businesses because for them the costs will have to be absorbed.

 

Santiago Castillo Jr.,

“It will not affect the Belizean people where Santiago Castillo is concerned simply because we have marine insurance which covers these types of scenarios and if we have to bring it in from Big Creek, we will try to absorb those costs to pass on the product at the same price to Belizeans. Of course the longer this takes then and it starts to get expensive, it will cost the Belize consumers more for the same products.”

 

Carla Hart

“We have projects ongoing. Time is money so when we lose time, we lose money; it’s as simple as that. We need to get these projects done. We are having pretty fair weather right now and every effective workday we lose, we lose money; that’s the bottom line.”

 

Duane Moody

“Who would incur that cost? Would it be your company, the people you work with? How do you get back what you lost?”

 

Carla Hart

“I think it will have to be a split. I mean companies will have to absorb some of these losses; you can’t pass everything on to your customers, so it is a concern both ways. We can’t suddenly change the price of our products because these ships were delayed. So unfortunately for a lot of businesses we are going to have to absorb a lot of these costs.”

 

Hart is willing to provide the human resources to offload the vessel. San Cas Director, Santiago Castillo Junior, put in a nutshell the three options that would solve the problem.

 

Santiago Castillo Jr.,

“There’s only three ways it could be resolved—A, B or C. One, either the stevedores and the Belize Port come to some sort of amenable agreement where everybody walks home happy and merchandise is unloaded at the port of Belize. Two; the Belize Port Authority gets a new set of stevedores to unload it—whomever that may be; or three, the ships are diverted to Big Creek, which would be the worst case scenarios because obviously the cost will be increased bringing product from Big Creek rather than from the Port. But that it will be resolved; I believe it will be resolved.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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