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President's New Year's message - After riding challenges, new year brings renewed hope

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM


In the last year, the local shipping industry faced what seemed like a storm as the global recession threw high waves of challenges from all directions. Staying afloat was not an easy task but I am proud to say the shipping industry is doing everything in its power to weather the storm.

There are many positives to take from this experience. Already, I am seeing positive signs of unity among key partners and industry stakeholders. This will be essential for establishing a cohesive framework for growth and will undoubtedly send an important signal to the industry, regarding the relevance of team-work at all levels. While innovative ideas to grow the industry continue to emerge, businesses are restructuring and diversifying to maintain their relevance.

'There is hope'

Despite the financial losses, there is hope for the future. Without a doubt, 2010 will bring with it a new set of challenges but, as Jamaicans, we have consistently distinguished ourselves by performing at the highest level at home and on the world stage, even in adverse conditions.

History is replete with examples of this. We have the capacity, resilience, determination, skills and brilliance to transform this industry. I remain passionate in my belief that this industry will grow. However, this will only happen when we are successful in building efficiencies in each small department and in each small operation. Increased efficiencies will lead to cost reductions, which will permit us to diversify our range of products, add greater value to our customers and thereby position ourselves to explore and attract new business.

Careful planning, execution

I am well aware that this is easier said than done. Hence 2010 should be a year of careful planning and execution. To this end, we must stay the course to achieve the objectives outlined in the last year. This includes establishing the port community system, which will form the foundation of the trade facilitation framework. Establishing this System takes time and careful examination. I implore you to stay onboard with us as we work out the idiosyncrasies of this single window for the industry.

The safety and security of all those who work and do business on the port of Kingston remains high on the agenda and, as such, the association remains committed to working with industry partners to transform Newport West into a gated community. Already, mobile patrols of the community have commenced. Improving the road structure of the community is our next step, which will propel the project into reality.

As The Shipping Association of Jamaica (SAJ) continues to redefine its relevance, it will assume the responsibility of delegated authority, on behalf of the Port Authority of Jamaica, to register truckers who do business at the island's two major ports. We embrace this opportunity to serve and look forward to building new relationships through this process.

To the staff of The SAJ, I am proud of your contribution every single day, but moreso in what was a very trying year. You have helped this group of organisations to achieve greatly and you have demonstrated your capacity to achieve more for our business with fewer resources. Many of you took it as a personal challenge to contribute ideas that made us more viable, more relevant and therefore more sustainable.

Many of you went beyond ideas and took on new challenges without asking for additional short-term personal rewards because you have bought in to the vision of the leadership of the association.

Your efforts have demonstrated that you have seen the importance of building a future for the industry and, therefore, for yourselves. We have been blessed with many successes as a result and our port is relying more on us to support its development. We are spread very thinly across many functions, some of which are newly created as a result of the dynamism and successful delivery of creative solutions to this industry.

Looking forward

I thank you in advance for the dedication that I know you will continue to show in 2010 and beyond. I look forward to working with you all toward the development of our association and the shipping industry.

To our members, partners and stakeholders in the industry, I thank you for sharing your ideas and not jumping ship when the waters got rough. You have been the driving force behind The SAJ's thrust to create a sustainable business environment.

The new year will definitely bring opportunities. It is important that we have the courage to embrace them.

All the best for 2010 and beyond.

- Roger Hinds