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Customs slowing growth of logistics operations

Published:Wednesday | January 22, 2014 | 4:33 PM

Richard Browne

Business Reporter

Jamaica Customs Department regulations have been slowing down the development of logistics operations in Jamaica, according to Charles Johnston, director of the Kingston Logistics Centre.

Making a presentation on the theme “Yes we can, but no we can’t” at the logistics forum at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston today, Johnston said that internationally bonded warehouses were considered extensions of the wharves, and in order to succeed need to be so treated in Jamaica.

“We have to get these laws amended as fast as possible,” he said.

Johnston said his company was working with various sections of the government on regulations related to logistics, but it “takes too long”. It should take only a” few months” to get the laws changed, he said.

According to Johnston, Jamaicans ran an efficient operation for Jamaica Producers (JP) in both Jamaica and England effectively for many years. So “yes, we can.”

However, he said operations are being held back as JP now has three customs inspectors checking 500 boxes of bananas being exported per week, slowing down the operation when compared to the smooth operation that the company previously ran when it was exporting 10,000 boxes weekly.

The regulations are holding back the development of logistics, he said. “Kingston Logistics and JP are working to be free. I urge you to do the same,” Johnston added.

Speaking at the same forum, Michael Rambally, head of operations (Caribbean

countries) at international delivery company DHL, said the company wants to be the logistics provider for Jamaica’s special economic zones with international import and export services, customs brokerage, supply chain for semi-finished goods and cold storage.

DHL, he said, has two outbound flights daily, staff trained in local and international procedures and is the only express courier to offer dangerous goods certified agents in Montego Bay and Kingston.

He said DHL has a hub in Cincinnati, United States, a state of the art facility equipped with the latest technology to connect customer shipments to more than 220 countries and territories. It processes up to 30,000 parcels and 65,000 documents per hour.

Tara Couriers, a local company with 30 years of experience, also made its bid for servicing the logistics hub. The domestic courier’s core business is servicing the corporate needs of clients across Jamaica.

The company said it can provide interconnection between local suppliers and the 16 proposed special economic zones.

The various locations of the hub will need a domestic courier hub, according to Steven Laing, CEO of TARA Courier Services. There is huge growth potential for local companies, including other local courier companies to seize the opportunities in the local and regional markets, he said.