- - Friday, October 10, 2014

The Port of Paramaribo is playing a vital role in Suriname’s effort to ramp up its development, and it has plenty of capacity to grow with Suriname and the region, say officials.

The mid-sized port Nieuwe Haven (translated: New Port) handles imports and exports equivalent to 100 percent of Suriname’s GDP a whopping $5.2 billion in 2013. Its modern facilities include the region’s largest cranes and a mobile crane allowing for the transfer of a ship’s cargo within a 12-hour “tidal window.” Last year, the port received 1,250 vessels. It handled 108,000 shipping containers and nearly 450,000 tons of individual goods and items. The Caribbean Port Association, a trade group, has honored N.V. Havenbeheer, the overseeing entity for Suriname’s port, three times as “Port of the Year” in different categories.

Now that Suriname’s President Desir Bouterse is undertaking ambitious development plans, the port is more important than ever in the former colony, situated on the northeastern shoulder of South America. Offshore oil drilling and gold mining are currently Suriname’s two hottest sectors; and as they continue to ramp up, officials say the port has plenty of room to grow.

The port’s stellar reputation, by all accounts, is due to the government’s management strategy specifically, the creation of public and private partnerships along the lines of recommendations from the World Bank. The port’s landlord is state-owned N.V. Havenbeheer Suriname (Suriname Port Management Company) which in 2008 undertook a major reorganization selecting three private terminal operators during a bidding process. The management company also operates Port Nieuw Nickerie, situated 123 miles west of Paramaribo at the mouth of the Nickerie River.

As private companies manage day-to-day operations, Suriname Port Management Company functions as a developer and supervisor, and remains legally responsible for operating the port.

Port of Paramaribo’s two main private companies are Integra Port Services N.V. (a stevedoring operator terminal); and Suriname Port Services N.V. (a container and cargo-handling facility). Together they can handle more than 100,000 standard-sized shipping containers. As needs arise, they have the potential to double that capacity.

“These terminals are well placed to handle all cargo into Suriname today but more importantly they have the potential to expand in line with future demand as trade continues to grow, underpinned by Suriname’s diversified natural resources sector,” said Matthew Leech, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Americas, shortly after DP World bought controlling stakes in the port’s two main operators.

Suriname Port Management Company also operates a facility about 20 miles upstream from Paramaribo, which specializes in handling equipment associated with sectors involving oil, mining, logging, and cement.

Containers and goods moving through the port also have increased thanks to an improved highway connecting Suriname with French Guiana, thereby allowing the port to serve as a gateway into western Suriname and French Guiana. Further improving infrastructure, especially connecting roads to neighboring countries, coincides with the government’s vision to become an even greater player in sea transport.

Among improvements now underway, Suriname Port Management Company is improving cross-border facilities in the east of Suriname. It also is upgrading the port of Nieuw Nickerie (bordering Guyana) which handles large amounts of agricultural goods, primarily bananas and rice.

Suriname Port Management Company’s mission includes stimulating port activity and creating jobs. Port security also is a priority, as was underscored by the fact that, two years ago, Suriname and neighboring Guyana became the first two Caribbean countries to join the Container Control Program. The program is an initiative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Customs Organization; it works with countries to improve port security and prevent the illegal use of sea containers in drug trafficking, criminal activities, and other threatening acts.

This article was produced in conjunction with The Washington Times International Advocacy Department.

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