Problems at the Port of Port-of-Spain persist even as the kinks on the Asycuda System have been ironed out.
Local freight forwarders told Guardian Media there is now a bottleneck of shipments waiting to be cleared.
Last month the Minister of Finance indicated that the teething problems associated with the system’s upgrade have been worked out.
According to Shaun Rampersad, Chief Operating Officer of Ramps Logistics, there are still some issues on the system.
He said, “There are some areas that have been fixed in terms of the initial processing of the entries but there is a huge backlog that is now hitting the Port because some things that could not process for about two weeks is all backed up now”.
Peter Patience, Director at Cargo Consolidators Agency Limited, told Guardian Media the risk assessment module responsible for determining which containers require examination, has not been functioning at full capacity. As a result, he said more containers are being sent for examination.
“What they are doing is officers at the screening stations at the ports decide if they are going to change the clearance status from green to red meaning that you need to have an examination. Every broker that we speak to says that more and more containers are continually being reverted to red status meaning that they need examination,” Patience said.
He added, “The number of containers being referred for examination greatly exceeds the capacity at the ports to complete those examinations and therefore the backlogs will not be reduced in the foreseeable future”.
Rampersad said he hopes the backlog will begin easing up by the end of this month. He stated that there are importers who have been waiting to have their stocks cleared since December.
“Even today there are some shipments that are going to go in the backlog so you have a backlog from the first week of January, which is true-backlog, and from this first week in February you can essentially say is front-log”, he lamented.
“From about the second week in January our daily drain from our customer base, in terms of what we were spending was somewhere between 50 to 100 US dollars a day,” Rampersad added.
He warned that the costs companies are paying when goods have to remain at the ports, will eventually be passed on to consumers.
Both Rampersad and Patience called for better communication among the Port officials, the Ministry of Finance and private sector.