Major work projects and development initiatives
The year 2015 expired and slipped away quietly. It did leave behind a mood of uncertainty about security and governance in some places and a steady hum of bloody martyrdom and human displacement. The ‘year of the refugee’ left us to ponder the complexities and inconsistencies played out in its final hours, on the streets of Köln as it did in stock markets where indicators reflected uncertainties about the Chinese economy; and, at the gas pumps, where motorists sang songs of praise. Meanwhile oil-producing nations including Canada, battered by market forces, wished 2015 gone.
To the contrary, Caribbean ports on December 31, 2015, were saying farewell to a year that was marked by significant achievement. Caribbean seaports and marine cargo terminals expanded, upgraded and retooled. Regionally, the Caribbean maritime sector reported a year of development and ended 2015 in better shape than at the start. Reports out of Roseau were that Venezuela would be providing US$12.5 million for rehabilitation work on Dominica’s Woodbridge Bay Port.
St. Maarten commissioned a new harbour crane in 2015 and the Port of Bridgetown acquired a new ship-to-shore gantry crane. For Barbados, it was a year of retooling. Cargo handling capabilities improved with the acquisition of a number of new machines and upgraded technology. And work on Berth 5 which began on March 27 was completed at the end of October. In the Dominican Republic, DP World Caucedo completed major dredging operations and opened its impressive logistics centre. And, the port of Columbia’s port at Cartagena had a spectacular year, receiving and commissioning five ship-to-shore gantry cranes.
“We are experiencing a small rebirth in cruise ship calls,” said Joseph A. O’Garro, Manager of the Montserrat Port Authority as that country saw continued progress in its massive rebuilding programme with designs for a new capital town and a new port on the drawing boards.
The reports of major work projects and development initiatives from the many ports and container terminals documented at year-end collectively defined 2015 as a ‘good year’ in the Caribbean maritime sector. And, in a region dominated by island-states, whose national economies are destined by reasons of geography to rely heavily on the maritime sector, sustaining effective and efficient ports is more than a matter of common sense. It is a matter of survival. 
- First published: February 1, 2016.