Then National, Wednesday 12th September, 2012
BUSINESS is becoming more costly and difficult in PNG because of the time it takes to clear cargo at the port, the Papua New Guinea Advantage 2012 investment conference was told yesterday.
The major concern was the length of time ship waited for clearance, and after that, more time waiting for containers and other cargo to be cleared.
Manufacturers’ Council of PNG chief executive Chey Scovell told a ports forum at the conference that his members, and the entire business community in PNG, were inundated with port problems.
Others on the chair, including Maersk International country manager Bronwyn Piesse and PNG Ports’ general manager engineering Larry Hore, admitted that PNG ports were facing a huge problem.
Hore was bombarded with questions and comments when the floor was opened.
“It’s certainly true that ports are facing issues with capacity,” Scovell told the forum.
“We need to have reliable, affordable and available ports services that are competitive.
“Industry in PNG, and the broader consumer services market, needs a feasible platform to undertake business.
“At the moment, the reality is that the ports, like other infrastructure issues, are a genuine concern and a bottleneck to business.
“Vessels are awaiting clearance for seven, eight days, nine days to come into port.
“And when the ship does get into port, there are major issues with getting their containers out of port.
“There’s a whole raft of areas that we’re working on to address these issues.”
Scovell said his council had established a sub-committee within its membership to establish inter-agency dialogue to address the problem.
He said Customs had serious problems in manpower, office space and accommodation for staff to attend to the very serious problems at PNG ports.
“The reality is that it took Customs two years to get an organisational structure that would allow them to meet the demands that prevailed at the time,” Scovell said.
“Residents here would also remember that four years ago, Gary Juffa, the former commissioner for Customs, gave a presentation in which he said that PNG Customs had only 17 officers to perform immigration functions.”
Scovell said very little had changed since in Customs’ manpower, office space and accommodation for staff.