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Trinidad & Tobago

Port of Port Of Spain impasse could become matter of national security

By Exilus Deceyon

Port-of Spain, Dec. 12 th [AlterPresse] --- Trinidad and Tobago Government will treat the hauliers impasse as a national security matter, if it is not settled by today December 12 th 2005, Minister of Works and Transport Colm Imbert said on December 10 th.

Imbert affirmed he has spoken with Attorney General John Jeremie on the matter and has been advised that options were available to Government, including taking “national security steps to end what is essentially a blockade of the Port of Port-of-Spain.”

“I have spoken to the Attorney General and we are putting contingency plans in place. At the moment, we are holding our hands to see what comes out of discussions between the hauliers and the importers and we hope that good sense prevails.

“However, if on Monday (tomorrow) the matter is not resolved, then it will be threatening the security of the country and we will have to take whatever action is necessary,” Imbert added in an interview on December 10th.

Early, last week, the Hauliers Association announced its members will not be removing import containers from the Port-of-Spain port, unless the Port Authority pays them a surcharge for inordinate delay at the port.

Inbert underlined he had discussed to managers of the Port Authority, who told him that dialogue had begun between hauliers and the importers, as well as with the Manufacturers’ Association and the Chamber of commerce.

He thought that was the right approach for the hauliers, since they were private trucking contractors who provide service to container importers. He indicated that like any business arrangement, what should have been done was that if the hauliers felt costs were going up because of market forces, they should have first spoken to the importers.

Imbert declared he was shocked that the hauliers, who, he specified, do not pay a cent to the Port Authority for use of its services, should now be demanding that the authority pay them for tardiness.

The Minister also has advanced no ships will be turned away over the weekend, since there was still some room on the port. But, if containers were not cleared beyond this weekend, there would be a major problem on the port. [ed rc apr 2005/12/12 8:00]