26/06/2018 – Curacao Chronicle. / PHILIPSBURG – In the post-Irma era, cargo operations at Port St. Maarten have been showing double-digit figures – close to 20 per cent increase in imports double digit increase in trans-shipment – in 2018 in comparison to the first quarter (Q.1 January to March) of 2017. Transshipment cargo continues to bolster the hub function of the port with the Caribbean region and the double-digit figure trend is expected to continue.
The number of cargo vessel calls for the first quarter have grown by nine per cent; and the number of barge calls importing dry bulk (e.g. Sand, cement and other aggregates) has increased by 26 per cent.
The double-digit growth has resulted in Port St. Maarten‘s local business partners and concessionaires responsible for stevedoring and trucking logistics, making considerable investments into newer equipment for a better efficient turnaround time where customers are concerned.
Intermar Group of Companies President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) George Pelgrim, said Irma caused major damages to stakeholder infrastructure impacting cargo vessel operations, terminal and warehousing logistics, port equipment and delivery of containers to consumers.
“By investing in new port equipment and building structures, our Group managed to alleviate this problem. We were forced to invest in brand new containers and various other cargo handling equipment. We are glad and proud to be a strategic partner in the rebuilding process of the country,” Pelgrim pointed out.
Besides Port St. Maarten seeing double-digit growth in 2018, St. Maarten has to keep track of trends and developments in the shipping industry. Global seaborne cargo container trade accounts for approximately 60 per of all world sea-transported trade, which was valued at around 12 trillion U.S. dollars in 2017.
The quantity of goods carried by containers has risen from 100 million metric tons in 1980 to about 1.7 billion metric tons in 2015.
“The transportation and shipping industry landscape is everchanging where E-commerce is concerned. We are keeping abreast of the forthcoming changes in this digitalize era in order to stay relevant and to be able to continue to improve upon our operational excellence and to remain a competitive and successful logistical hub. In this fierce and competitive environment, we must never lose sight and keep our eye on the ball as the industry continues to evolve,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.
Digitalization of logistics is the future. Technology will radically change the way logistics are organized. As logistics become more complex, there is an increasing need to digitalize information streams. It will allow for optimization of current existing infrastructure, reducing the need to invest in additional infrastructure.
Data analytics and data exchange is becoming a new comparative advantage for ports. Self-steering ships – Artificial Intelligence – will in the future become the standard; the usage of sensors will replace the need for towing; and the usage of drones will increase efficiency in the case of inspection.
“These are the trends and developments that Port St. Maarten is very much cognizant about and will continue to monitor in order to continue to improve upon the services rendered to clients and customers,” Port St. Maarten Management concluded.
Today, post-Irma, effective and efficient cargo handling is a given at Port St. Maarten‘s Captain David Cargo Quay located at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility serving customers on St. Maarten/St. Martin.
Photo: Cargo port operations at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise & Cargo Facility.