Shipping lines unite to reject tugboat fee rise in Kingston, Jamaica

The major shipping lines calling the Port of Kingston have declared their intention to reject an increase in vessel towing fees by the concessionaire Canada-based Ocean Towing.

 Citing a failure to meet its financial projections based on lower than expected vessel calls at Kingston, the tugboat operating company, said it was raising fees in accordance with rights derived under the 10-year concession agreement which it signed with the Port Authority of Jamaica last year, to provide harbour towage services in Kingston from June 2018. The concession agreement allows Ocean Towing sole rights to operate tugboat services at the Port of Kingston.

The announced increases in towage and waiting time rates are in the order of 21% while the fuel surcharge will rise 12.6%.

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The notice of the increases, which is expected to take effect on 1 February 2019, was circulated to shipping line representatives in Jamaica between 31 January and 7 February with a dateline of 31 January 2019. In effect, therefore, the increase took effect one day after the letter was written but in some cases the notice was received after the effective date of the increase, said the Shipping Association of Jamaica in a statement.

The shipping lines argue that the custom in Kingston is that the operator of towing services meet with the users of its services and negotiate increases in rates. There are also questions as to how the Concession Agreement allows the provider to increase rates before a full year of operation. Last year, Lines took issue with its issuing of invoices which reflected charges unsupported by details of the services for which the company was billing.

Posted 11 February 2019

© Copyright 2019 Seatrade (UBM (UK) Ltd). Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Seatrade.

Michele Labrut

Americas Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime News

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