GT wharf cramped for space as demand for construction material surges – GNSC

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The demand for construction materials has left the Guyana National Shipping Corporation (GNSC) cramped for space and it plans to cater for expanded capacity this year including dredging the Demerara River to accommodate larger ships.

GNSC had a busy 2021 and saw a significant uptake in marine traffic with close to 250 vessels calling at the port for the year.

GNCS’s Managing Director Indranauth Haralsingh said the port also saw a increase in investor calls and those are expected to ramp up, pushing the Corporation to plan for expand capacity in 2022.

Haralsingh took the News Room on a walkthrough the Lombard Street, Georgetown wharf spanning over 300 metres to capture the hustle and bustle at port on Thursday.

Some workers were loading chemicals off of a container while others were still offloading bulky bags of cement from a ship that came in from Dominica late Wednesday night.

GNCS’s Managing Director Indranauth Haralsingh (Photo: News Room/ January 6, 2021)

Haralsingh said it was the cement industry that contributed greatly to the increased traffic. With plans of an aggressive transformation of Guyana’s landscape being pursued by the government, he explained that huge shipments of cement come at least twice a month.

“That is huge compared to the previous year with a total 187 vessels calling at the port,” the Managing Director said.

He also pointed the team to huge grey tarps that covered bags upon bags of cement in the warehouse being stored until they are ready to use.

“That is a big market today so we see loads of cement, stone, building materials for the country for infrastructure, for housing and for other construction projects,” he shared.

Other cargo like aggregates, rice, fertilizer and more chemicals also pass through the port. And in total, 241,222 metric tonnes of cargo was handled by the Corporation in 2021.

But the year did not come without challenges and the biggest facing the Corporation was space. According to Haralsingh, the port dealt with so much cargo that it ran out of space.

“Currently, at the back of me, we have about 72,000 square feet of storage space but we need more,” he stated.

Another major issue faced by the Corporation that has trickled over into the new year is the fact that the Demerara River has not been dredged, Haralsingh explained.

Huge grey tarps covered bags upon bags of cement in one of GNSC’s warehouses. (Photo: News Room/ January 6, 2021)

Because of this fact, larger vessels cannot be accommodated, leading to higher freight costs and a decreased cargo load.

“As you are aware, the Demerara River is very shallow so we have that challenge because we are not able to accommodate vessels that are seven or eight metres deep,” he explained.

But this is expected to be a thing of the past as the Corporation will commence dredging by the end of January as it prepares for the further ramp up of marine traffic.

The Managing Director said in the next few months, the wharf will be transformed with additional storage capacity being sought and the addition of heavy duty cranes to facility heavy lifting in the oil and gas sector.

“We are also building our capacity in terms of staffing, hiring skilled, competent, qualified staff because capacity is very, very important for us in terms of having the right equipment to do the job and having the people with the right skill set to do the job,” he said.

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