Christmas cargo still uncleared
Some barrels shipped to port in Montego Bay for Christmas are yetto be cleared.
Jam at MoBay port leaves barrels unstripped since December

IMPORTERS and households expecting barrels in Montego Bay are protesting long waits being experienced at the port.

Freight Handlers Limited, a company which assists Jamaicans in clearing imported goods, has indicated that it is waiting for containers which came in December 2021 and which remain unstripped, as there is limited warehouse space in the facilities run by Jamaica Customs for goods clearance.

“There is a big backlog, “the spokesperson said. “We have to wait until they have space in the warehouse for us to come in and strip,” she explained to the Jamaica Observer on Thursday.

One woman, a client, told the Caribbean Business Report that her barrel arrived in December. However, she had been told she would have to wait 21 working days for collection.

The company representative said, “We know how people feel, spending their money and then being unable to get the goods when they come. We are not the only company affected. All freight companies in Montego Bay are experiencing the same thing.”

She said containers would remain unstripped until customs called to say warehouse space was available.

She explained that there was an extensive backlog of goods, made worse by ships also arriving in Montego Bay late after stopping in Miami and Kingston.

The Caribbean Business Report was told about another woman, a visitor to the island who had come for the Christmas season, and who after two weeks left without being able to clear her barrel, even though it had arrived on the island before she did.

Many visitors opt for the Christmas barrel as a means of taking gifts for relatives, as a discount on customs charges is obtained when they can indicate that they came in by air and would also be collecting goods by sea.

This woman had to write a letter and have it signed by a Justice of the Peace in order to have it cleared by a relative at a later date, after her departure.

The Freight Handlers representative said that the procedure was what is expected when individuals who are named as the recipients are unable to clear the goods.

“They will have to get the JP to sign a letter, ” so that someone else can do it for them, she told Caribbean Business Report.

Jamaica Customs Agency Director of Public Relations and Customer Service La Donna Manning promised to provide information on the delays at a later date.

However, earlier in December 2021 that body updated that, year to date, trade volumes of importation (both commercial and non-commercial) had surpassed both the pre-pandemic and the 2020 volumes.

Comparatively, for the first seven days of December 2021, commercial trade volume grew by 161 per cent relative to the same period of December 2019 and 330 per cent relative to 2020.

Similarly, for the first seven days of December 2021, non-commercial trade volume grew by 25 percent relative to the same period of December 2019 and 29 per cent relative to 2020.

At the same time, an uptick in export volumes was also observed, with growth rates of 26 per cent relative to 2020 and 86 per cent relative to 2019.

As at December 7, 2021, a total of 54,525 containerised shipments were processed for home use.

Barrel surge

For the first seven days of December 2021, the total number of barrels processed was 14,359. Comparatively, 11,647 and 10,206 barrels were processed for the same period of 2020 and 2019, respectively.

Jamaica Customs says that the growth rate in barrel activity was therefore 23 per cent relative to 2020 and 41 per cent relative to 2019.

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