Fri | May 26, 2017

Cruise sector loses millions to heavy winds - Thousands left without electricity

Published:Wednesday | January 11, 2017 | 1:00 AMLeon Jackson

Western Bureau:

The strong winds that have been sweeping sections of Jamaica since last weekend have taken a heavy toll on the local economy, as an estimated J$21 million in potential revenue was lost because the Oosterdam cruise ship was not able to dock at the Falmouth Pier in Trelawny on Monday.

The figure, which was provided by cruise-shipping officials, does not include the taxes that would have gone into the Government's coffers.

Mark Hylton, who manages the Falmouth Cruise Ship Terminal on behalf of the Port Authority of Jamaica, told The Gleaner yesterday that on each voyage to the Trelawny-based pier, the Oosterdam carries some 1,800 passengers.

"With the ship not docking, a number of stakeholders have been affected negatively - craft traders and traders in general, transport operators, and people who operate businesses on the pier," said Hylton.

"Staff would have turned up for work and not [be] needed, but because they have turned up, they will have to be paid, even though their bosses would not have earned for the day.

"The traders are not able to market their wares and still have to pay for rental spaces. Transport operators would have not accepted other possible bookings because of their contractual arrangement with the pier. It is generally a day we hope does not repeat itself," added Hylton.

Despite the disappointment with the Oosterdam cruise ship, Hylton said all was not lost, because larger ships could navigate the rough seas. They will be able to dock even if the winds remain high in the upcoming days.

Regarding the transport operators who had bought tickets to enter the pier on Monday, Hylton said provision would be made for them to use the tickets.

According to Hylton, the current heavy winds that generally affect the smaller ships occur annually between late December and February. On average, the bad weather generally spans no more than nine days.

The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) has said that at least 20,000 customers were still without power yesterday because of the impact of heavy winds across Jamaica.

The heavy winds are being caused by a cold front.

Corporate communications officer at the JPS, Audrey Williams, said the restoration efforts by work crews were being hampered by the windy conditions. She said that the majority of customers who were still without electricity were in Kingston, St Andrew and St Catherine.