AN agreement signed between the St. Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA) and PVF Stevedoring Services Inc. has now made the latter the premier stevedoring service provider at Port Vieux Fort.
PVF Stevedoring Services Inc. was formed a few years ago after SLASPA decommissioned the St. Lucia Marine Terminals which resulted in eighty-seven stevedores at Port Vieux Fort being made redundant.
The historic agreement was signed yesterday in the conference room of the Vieux Fort Fisheries Complex.
In addressing the ceremony, Eldridge Stephens, Chairman of the Board of Directors of PVF Stevedoring Services Inc., said: “The process which brought us here today was garnished and tempered with honesty, thoughtfulness, objectivity, patience and tolerance.”
He added that it was not business as usual as the company has now entered a new phase in the life of stevedoring in Vieux Fort and called on the stevedores to continue to improve on the excellent services at the port.
“I hereby make a special plea to you, the shareholders and workers of PVF, to up your game in the provision of reliable and efficient stevedoring services. Seek to conduct your business with honesty and integrity and comply with the safety and operational standards demanded by SLASPA and the industry,” Stephens said.
According to Stephens, the new relationship with SLASPA, although in its infancy stage, signals a paradigm shift in the cargo handling operation here.
Acting General Manager of SLASPA, Daren Cenac, said: “The signing today of the SLASPA/PVFSS agreement signifies a very important date in the history of SLASPA because it represents yet another step in SLASPA’s quest as a port authority to adopt international best practices and allow private enterprise to perform terminal handling activities at the Castries and Vieux Fort sea ports.”
In explaining why SLASPA had strategically decided to discontinue its direct involvement in the provision of stevedoring and long-shoring services to ships and their cargoes, Cenac said: “The relevance of sea port in the efficient working of our economy cannot be understated because St. Lucia, being classified as having island ports, explicitly means that there are no alternative transport modes other than ships to facilitate the importation and exportation of our various cargoes.”
He added that research confirms that over 90% of world trade is transported by seaborne transport.
Cenac said the signing represented a continuation of SLASPA’s effort to undertake much-needed port reform to aid the economic development of St. Lucia and that, in doing so, lower the cost of doing business at our ports.
According to him, the basic objective of a sea port is to provide a fast and safe transit of goods and passengers through its facilities so that generalized costs for passengers and shippers are minimized.