SURINAME: Development projects underway

2014 November 1: Andreas Talea, just over one year at the helm of the Suriname Port Management Company (SPMC) which operates Paramaribo’s largest terminal, Nieuwe Haven, expects growth and a positive change in the economic fortunes of the Dutch-speaking South American country. His optimism rests on growth projections for the Surinamese economy by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This projected growth is expected to expand trade and Mr. Talea knows that this translates to increased business for the port which was named by the Caribbean Shipping Association ‘Best Multi-purpose Port’ in consecutive years – 2011 and 2012. The port took the prize for ‘Efficiency’ in 2013

“I look back with great satisfaction to 2013, especially with regard to the positive financial results and the fact that ‘Nieuwe Haven’ once again has been named the most efficient port of the region,” says Talea.

Suriname made significant progress moving several port projects forward in 2013. A large section of the Suriname River along the docking area was dredged. The reefer station is being rehabilitated and expanded to 14,000 m2 and the number of plugs will be increased from 119 to 300.

In an effort to stimulate the banana industry, the handling fees for that sector were reduced. Meanwhile an area of 7 hectares is being prepared to facilitate export-related operations. Also, a new stack for empty containers has been constructed which means storage space of an additional 20,300 m2

Change and expansion bring challenges and heightened expectations. Mr. Talea is well aware.

“The aim is to consistently operate on a professional basis.  By improving the capacity of our staff, we will also improve our service to clients and increase our earning capacity”, he said, adding that port management must adapt to constant and rapid change.

Trade facilitation

While its core activities lies in Paramaribo, the company has identified several regions where improved or modern port or docking facilities are necessary. In recent years several factors have led to an increased movement of persons between Suriname and French Guiana, especially at the border crossing in Albina, 135 kilometres east of the capital.

The upgrading of the East-West Corridor along the Surinamese coast, from Paramaribo to the border town Albina is nearly completed. This improved connection is already having a positive effect on the volume of traffic moving between those towns and cross the border river to French Guiana. As there is no bridge across the Marowijne River, one ferry and numerous motorized canoes transport passengers, goods, cars and trucks between Suriname and the French territory.

The current facilities for the border crossing are not in line with WHO regulations. The ferry is too small to handle the number of vehicles that are crossing the river and a decision has been taken to obtain a much larger boat. The mooring facility needs to be adjusted to accommodate the new ferry. The facilities for motorized canoes need to be upgraded in order to facilitate passengers in a safe and comfortable way.

The port management company has requested a piece of land near the ferry terminal for port related activities including, container storage and an industrial zone. Meanwhile, proposals to process import cargo destined for French Guiana at the Nieuwe Haven Terminal are still being considered.

In 2012 Buro CITE, a consultancy firm, became involved in the project and produced the design for the new facilities for the canoes and the larger ferry. In the last quarter of 2014 the work on the mooring facility for the ferry will be completed, while construction of the facilities for motorized canoes will start in 2015. According to the CEO, the new facilities will create new jobs for locals and contribute to increased tourism, trade and transport between the two countries. It will also regulate what was described as “disorderly activities” that are currently taking place in Albina.  Although the project is an initiative of the Suriname Port Management Company it is being financed by the French authorities.

Recently SPMC signed a contract with La Communaute des Comunes de L’Oest Guyanais (CCOG) for the execution of this initiative. The project it is part of the so-called ‘Programme Operationnel Amazonia 2007-2013’, an infrastructure initiative between Suriname, Brazil and French Guiana. Within this framework several workshops and seminars were held with stake holders.

A multi-purpose port facility with a keen sense of its pivotal role in the country’s economic development, Nieuwe Haven has adopted as its foremost tasks:

  • optimizing all services and the business climate in the port;
  • providing a consistently high quality of services and creating “corporate-friendly” climate within the port area;
  • construction and maintenance of new and existing port infrastructure;
  • providing sufficient space to terminal operators and others that are part of the activities in the port, including cargo processing;
  • providing safe, smooth and environmentally responsible management of the transport of cargo within the port area.

These are the tasks that Andreas Talea and his able and experienced team have accepted. The people of Suriname will benefit from the results. []