An update on Barcadera

I visited Barcadera yesterday checking what progress it is making on its vision of becoming: The Best in Class and Most Sustainable regional Multi Cargo Sea Terminal service provider.

It was a beautiful day; the sun was shining and the sky was clear.

I took a right at the end of the curvy new highway at Balashi, then a left at Arugas, you can’t miss, I was told. True. There was a long line of transport trucks lining the road, drivers idle, shooting the breeze, nothing to do, mid-morning, on an otherwise busy Tuesday.

The gates to the port were closed.

It was 10am. A cargo ship was already tied up to the dock, ready to dislodge its containers, but the port wasn’t operational.

My gracious host Mike de L’Isle, CEO at ASTEC NV, provided me with safety shoes, a helmet and a blazing-orange vest. Together we took a stroll through the 125-million-florin container harbor.

We walked to the end of the pier overlooking WEB and the Balashi bay, white smoke was wafting out of the chimneys.

Why is the port closed at 10:30am?

You know the answer already.

Since the beginning of the year, “smoke gets in my eyes” complaints have been crippling the operation with huge financial consequences.

The volatile and unpredictable nature of container ship schedules, just got more volatile and more unpredictable with the slow down at Barcadera.

On the morning I was there, there wasn’t a trace of smoke in the air, the wind was blowing in the right direction, the air was fresh. Still the port was closed.


Because the keys to the kingdom are at the hands of Customs.

Which is a bit bizarre. Why would you build a 125-million-florin facility and hand the key over to a third party? The harbor is ISPS certified — International Ship and Port Facility Security, and can take care of its own security.

It is a bit odd and cumbersome. Let’s say you build a family home and hand the key to the neighbor?

Or hand your balls over to a third party to carry and hold?

Port security will be cheaper and more efficient under port management, manned by security officers – a less challenging workforce.

Which brings me to the second point of my story. WEB.

WEB bought some cheap fuel for its boilers and generators, with a HIGH SULPHOR CONTENT. Higher than the expected norm, to make its bottom line shine. They have been burning inferior, subpar combustibles affecting the port, at the mercy of the wind direction and caprice.

Shame on them for valuing their bottom line first.

New fuel is coming in Aug 3rd, they will mix what they have with the new batch to come up with better grade combustibles, but that company should be held responsible for millions in damages, in upsetting life at the port as we know it.

I learned a lot more. I will revisit the subject.

Right now, I want you all to express your outrage with WEB’s conduct on the matter and condemn its shitty practices.

From an old column: …. To make this project happen, ASTEC the company operating the harbor, and APA, the Aruba Port Authority partnered with a number of local businesses such as META CORP, determined to move the operation away from town to an area past the airport.

It took years, but it happened. Naturally, the activity of loading and discharging ships requires good logistics, and as a result of the decision to move the harbor it was agreed that ASTEC will be making the shore side investment in the new development, building docks, and offices and warehouses, buying cranes and forklifts and whatever it takes to operate the port while the Aruba Port Authority, APA, will be making the maritime investment, I am not sure what it entails but I am confident it takes a huge financial outlay to acquire anything from vessels to technology.  Fast forward to March 2016. It worked. Together, the island was given a new container harbor, with a total investment of 120 million dollars.  The shareholders, ASTEC, APA, META, increased their input, added some capital and borrowed the rest, but they made it happen. Hip Hip Hurrah.  

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July 26, 2018
Rona Coster