Gov’t official assures San Juan port congestion being addressed
SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico Economic Development Secretary Manuel Laboy confirmed Monday that his department is looking into the number of shipping containers with merchandise that continue accumulating in the Port of San Juan, which are also causing traffic on Kennedy Avenue and pickup delays.
“I have had conversations with MIDA [Spanish acronym for Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry & Distribution], with the Retail Trade Association, with the United Retailers Center, with the Chamber of Commerce itself. It’s a topic that has arisen, especially after the hurricanes. It’s one of the core issues. Yes, I’ve been in conversations in which those concerns have been brought. I am a member of the Board of Directors of the Ports Authority and it is something I have been able to share. It is being worked on,” Laboy said in a Radio Isla 1320 interview.
He also announced that there are scheduled meetings in which the matter will be discussed.
“There is concern and I believe that in many instances there are concerns that are merited and I think they deserve to be taken care of responsibly,” he added.
Since the passage of hurricanes Irma and María, the cargo container delivery has been affected, causing traffic congestion on Kennedy Avenue, at the entrance to the port area. Which in turn complicates the process and waiting time for truck drivers to pick up the containers.
“I cannot indicate specific situations because that is part of what has to be evaluated. But I can tell you that there is a concern in the food distribution sector,” the official maintained, unable to explain the reasons for the problem.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the Broad Teamsters Front, Víctor Rodríguez, blamed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“This is caused by non-planning and the fact that the government does not [tackle] the problem. The problem is simple. Everyone knows it. FEMA made agreements with some shipping companies and [now] they have this kind of problem when there are more than 1,000 containers stuck at the docks of Puerto Rico, especially in the Kennedy [Avenue] area. That’s why the traffic is immense,” Rodríguez said in an interview with the same radio station.
He argued that during normal times, it can take truckers about an hour and a half to collect merchandise, but that it is currently taking up to 10 hours.
“Why? Because the hoarding of containers by FEMA and with the conspiracy of some companies has caused this type of problem that is not needed by the people of Puerto Rico,” he denounced.