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Cargo boom sparking dock delays

Piled high: containers and other goods are causing delays at Hamilton docks as the operators appealed for owners to help keep commerce flowing by picking up their goods (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The upcoming America’s Cup has sparked a boom at Bermuda’s docks — but turnaround times have slowed as containers and other goods pile up on the wharf.

Warren Jones, chief executive officer of Stevedoring Services’ parent company Polaris Holding, said: “This is unusual based on recent years, definitely.

“It’s related to the America’s Cup — we’ve seen a lot of cargo coming in.”

He was speaking a day after Stevedoring Services appealed to importers, forwarders and truckers to collect their goods quickly as the six-acre dock site was filled to capacity.

Mr Jones said: “The containers are not an issue, but we’ve seen an incredible amount of boats coming in and break-bulk. That’s anything not containerised — toilets, lifting equipment, tractors, anything other than containers.

“The containers you can stack, but you can’t stack cars and boats.”

Mr Jones added that the extra cargo was a safety hazard for dock staff.

He said: “It’s not only a potential hazard for staff, there is potential for damage the longer things are there.”

Mr Jones added that the average turnaround time for trucks is around nine to 11 minutes, but that had now stretched to 20 to 30 minutes, with some collectors experiencing even longer waits.

He said: “We anticipate this going on until the America’s Cup — Bermuda would like to see it go on a lot longer.

“Hopefully, there will be some sort of sustainability afterwards, but realistically I think we will see some fall-off after the America’s Cup.

“We are handling whatever comes in, but people can expect some delays on the docks.”

Mr Jones explained that prompt pick-up was needed as three boats come in a week, with early containers at the bottom of stacks, which meant more work and time to move later shipments to get at the lowest levels.

But he said: “It’s great for business and it would be even better if the stuff was flowing smoothly because everybody relies on us — the entire country.”