COSTA RICA NEWS — The strike by dock workers at the Limón port goes beyond a simple stop work action, it places in jeopardy the country’s ability to stay competitive and maintaining its leadership in the region, as many Central American companies use the Costa Rican Caribbean ports.
“It affects transport to Nicaragua and the region, because of the growing the business of packaging and distribution of many products entering by way of Costa Rica and transported by land to the rest of Central America. We call this multimodal transport,” Monica Sengin, manager of Descaraga, told El Financiero.
The daily cost for each ship can be US$25.000, even it is just anchored at port waiting to load or offload merchandise. The losses start the minute the docks closed, and escalate as the hours pass. According to data from the Costarricense de Cámaras y Asociaciones de la Empresa Privada (UCCAEP) – the Costa Rican Union of Chambers and Associations of Private Enterprise, in the case of bananas, Costa Rica’s major export, the product is lost in three or four days.
Some 700 ships annually use the Limón and Moín posts, loading some 2 million tons of cargo, and unloading 800.000 tons.
“Ships are not like airliners, because we go to different ports in a single trip and transfer loads to other vessels. The closing of one port affects the rotation and increases costs,” explained Jorge Campabadal, president of the Cámara Nacional de Armadadores y Agentes de Vapores (NAVE) – National Chamber of Armadadores and Steamship Agents.
The consequences of the Limón docks closure includes the diversion of ships to other ports and the inconveniences its brings, the shipping line having to make adjustment in each country it docks.
The port closure breaks the coupling of the logistics network and increases the cost of trucks waiting around the port, with no merchandise to load. Nicaragua, for example, uses the Limón port, as merchandise carried to and from the ships by truck.
The chain of production is directly affected. Many of the local companies depend on the ports to operate to obtain raw materials used in production lines, like the supply of basic consumer goods, machinery and packaging supplies, among others.
“It can’t be that a small group decide for an entire province and country. This type of action should not be allowed to disturb the public order and undermine national progress, particularly in a province like Limón (…),” said Enrique Egloff, president fo the Cámara de Industrias (Chamber of Industries).
“Every hour the docks are not working it represents thousands of dollars in losses to the productive sector,” said José Manuel Quirce, presidente de la Cámara de Importadores (Crecex) – Chamber of Importers.