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Jan 26, 2022

Port Strike in 7th Day; Shipping Agents Shifting to Big Creek

The standstill at the Port of Belize Limited is now in its seventh day. Some ships have already turned back, causing importers to activate contingency plans.  Shipping agents are looking to their only alternative, the Big Creek Port in Independence Village. But where the Port of Belize Limited offers proximity to many of its clients, using Big Creek means trucking containers much further, potentially driving up costs for consumers.  News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Jody Williams, Sales and Marketing Director, Marie Sharp

Jody Williams

“If we don’t sell, we can’t pay our farmers, we can’t pay our workers. We have eighty farmers that produce pepper for us, ten farmers that produce fruits for us that we do our jams; we have close to ninety employees at the factory. We work with trucking companies that has to truck our goods to the Port and back. They have their mortgages to pay, their loans to pay, and they are saying this doesn’t come to an end soon they will not be able to meet payment.”


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Marie Sharps Fine Food Limited has their eyes on the Big Creek Port as an alternative to ship their products and to receive operations goods.


Jody Williams

“I know right now there have been talks about shifting; some of the agents have been talking about shifting some of these boats to the Big Creek. It is extra cost, but sometimes we might have to take that extra cost because having our shipments out there at sea not coming to the Belize Port and just there, the ship won’t stay there and park there. They have a schedule to actually make. So, if the imports don’t come off the ship, they have to go back with the containers, and it will cost us the importers, even person bringing in vehicle parts, medical supplies, everyone is affected by this if it goes back to Miami, it will cost us double or more than if we divert these shipments to the Big Creek Port.”


Ruy Martinez, Regional Commercial Director at A.S.R/ B.S.I says vessel agents have noted with great concern the repetitive nature of the disputes at the Port of Belize Limited. Those vessels are beginning to look to the Big Creek Port.


Ruy Martinez, Regional Commercial Director, A.S.R./B.S.I.

Ruy Martinez

“This is the first time I have actually seen the vessel agents, some of them not all of them, rumor and talk a lot more about we got to start looking at a contingency plan. Do we go and start calling Big Creek, maybe not a hundred percent, but latest on a consistent base? How much times to we call, because we need to have a contingency plan. There might be a moment where there is really no, that is something that is, that should worry us of all. Even with the container exports, we are growing our container exports because of the DC production, so all of that is going through Port of Belize. If the container lines stop calling Port of Belize and start calling Big Creek, that is going to force us to also have follow where they follow. We have to there is no way.”


And this morning, Prime Minster John Briceño confirmed that ships are already moving to Big Creek Port until the labor dispute is resolved.


John Briceño

Prime Minister John Briceño

“Yes, it is affecting everyone because the cost of good will go up, because if the ships cant offload then by the time it does the cost of those containers will go up, and it will eventually reach to all of us. So, yes it is affecting everyone. We are just urging CWU and the Port to sit down and talk, and not just point fingers at one another and try to find a compromise so that we can move forward. But, I do know what will be happening now is that more and more ships will be going down south until this is resolved.”


Belizean Queen Freight Services informed its customers via social media that one ship actually returned to the US on Monday with all their cargo, while a smaller one has been allowed to dock at the Port in Southern Belize with its containers.


Ruy Martinez

“In previous times, some people at their corporate in Germany or France say, aren’t their other ports. I have seen the emails. They say, let’s look at, and the regional people that sit in either Brazil, or Miami, or Mexico, they say no that is not a contingency. This is the first time that I have seen them say, you know what maybe we should look at a contingency.”


The distance from Southern Belize to Belize City will increase the cost of local goods in the supermarkets, forcing prices up.


Via Phone: Billy Musa Jr., Director, Brodies Supermarket

Via Phone: Billy Musa Jr.

“We would have to get the truckers to get the containers from there, and truck it from Big Creek to our warehouses in town. So, that will be an additional inland freight charge that obviously will have to be added into the costing of our goods.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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