The International Port Community System Association (IPCSA) has expanded its global membership once again, welcoming Curaçao Ports Authority as its newest member.
The government-owned Curaçao Ports Authority (CPA) has responsibility for five harbour operations, including the main port, St Anna Bay, with its cruise terminals, refinery, container terminal and drydock, the Bullenbay with its oil and gas terminal operations, St Michael Bay, Caracas Bay and Fuik Bay (at Fuik Bay CPA is only responsible for harbour traffic management). CPA is also 100% owner of the pilotage company Curaçao Pilots Organization (CPO) and the towage company Curaçao Towage Company (KTK Tugs), both instrumental in ensuring safe and efficient harbor operations.
CPA handles about 100,000 teu of containers and a total 900,000 tonnes of cargo annually at its facilities. Curaçao imports almost all of its needs, so the port facilities are crucial to the island’s economy. About 2,150 vessels call at CPA’s ports every year.
Curaçao is a major cruise destination – CPA expects cruise passenger numbers to exceed 700,000 in 2023, and to reach pre-Covid numbers of 800,000 in 2024. The port authority has recently built a second cruise pier to provide much-needed extra capacity, and a cruise app has been developed enabling all stakeholders to track the activities of a cruise ship’s schedule.
Urvin Inocente, IT manager at CPA, said: “Our port facilities are vital for the economy of the islands, which are very dependent on the cruise and tourism sector, as well as for the import of the daily goods that the population and visitors need.”
At present, CPA operates a harbour traffic management system called Port Control, which encompasses pilot scheduling, tug dispatching, billing and collaboration between vessel traffic control and other services.
However, given the International Maritime Organization’s requirements for Member States to implement a Maritime Single Window, CPA is exploring the opportunities to expand the existing platform and develop new solutions.
“We made a big transition to digitalisation with the implementation of our harbour traffic management system in 2017,” said Urvin. “This was a real game-changer, moving away from paper. But it is also the foundation that we need right now to move on to a Port Community System and/or Maritime Single Window. We approached IPCSA to see how it can help us move forward.
“As a port authority, we have the connections to achieve what is needed in terms of a Port Community System and will bring in the necessary expertise. Our preference would be for expanding our harbour traffic management system; at present, we have stakeholders directly connected, including agents, the drydock, tugs and pilots. So we are part of the way there already. For a Single Window, we will need to connect more with government entities such as Immigration and Customs. There is, of course, some overlap between the PCS and the Single Window.”
Being a member of IPCSA will bring huge benefits, including from the exchange of information and experience with other members, said Urvin. “We will be able to bring any ideas or challenges to the community and learn from others’ experiences. As a small port on an island, we have the same challenges as larger ports but we don’t have the same amount of resources. Being able to learn from other members about how they have dealt with challenges will be a big benefit for us – supporting our decision-making and allowing us to eliminate any unnecessary costs from trying something that others have already done without success but instead focussing our efforts on proven concepts.”
CPA will also be able to share its own experience of implementing its current system and how this was achieved with limited resources at its disposal, he added. “While we have the challenge of limited resources, we have the advantage of smaller groups, shorter reporting lines and the ability to get things moving faster. We can all learn from each other. Sometimes the solution is simpler than imagined – and simplicity comes from smaller ports.
“We are happy to be part of IPCSA and will be glad of other members’ support as we expand our systems and generate more value for our stakeholders in the port and the wider economy of the island.”
Nico De Cauwer, Secretary General of IPCSA, said: “We have been pleased to work with Curaçao Ports Authority in recent times and are delighted that CPA has decided to join IPCSA as a full member. We look forward to sharing experience – both ways – and we look forward to welcoming the CPA team to our workshops and meetings.”
Hans Rook, Ambassador of IPCSA, added: “IPCSA members can be defined by their willingness to share experience and expertise around the creation, development and operation of Port Community Systems and Single Window operations. While each port has its own individual challenges and achievements, there are many common challenges in every such operation. We are delighted to welcome CPA to the IPCSA family.”