The Barbados Port Inc. (BPI) has been weathering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic well, despite a slowdown in activity.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BPI, David Jean-Marie, during a tour of the Bridgetown Port on Wednesday, attributed this to the fact that cargo accounts for 80 per cent of the business done at the port, and adjustments were also made to this year’s budget to cushion the impact of the pandemic on its operations.
“When this crisis started, we would’ve completed our budget for this financial year. We revised that budget to take into account a 20 per cent reduction in cargo and no cruise because that is moving target, and we still remain viable,” Mr. Jean-Marie said.
The BPI CEO added that they also made provisions for staff affected by the halt in cruise tourism.
“The workers are fully engaged at the port. The cruise business has not really [been] impacted. It probably has reduced the quantum of overtime. We have a cadre of reserves that we engage when we do have cruise vessels in, that may not have gotten jobs [as a result of the pandemic]. We would have taken care of them for a period of time during this crisis,” Mr. Jean-Marie said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Maritime Affairs and the Blue Economy praised the management and staff at the Bridgetown Port for their continued dedication during this challenging period.
“I want to thank the management of the port for the work they have done here. I also want to thank the staff, because they continue to work very, very hard to make sure that we are in a position to be competitive,” he said, noting that their support was key in the process of enhancing the way business is done at the facility.
He also expressed the view that it was important authorities utilise this down time to further review, tweak, and where possible, identify new approaches to improve efficiency.
Meanwhile, BPI Chairman, Peter Odle, indicated that he was ready to hit the ground running. Optimistic that his experience in the private sector would be useful in his new role, he stated: “This is a very exciting time for the port …. A lot of the groundwork has been done, and it’s a question of implementation …. There will always be challenges, but we will get [things] done.” Mr. Odle added that initial conversations with port officials had gone well, and he was looking forward to working with them.