PAP seaport back in action. 24 February 2010
Haiti’s main seaport at Port-au-Prince has managed to handle container traffic at a level higher than before the Jan. 12 earthquake, and full repairs to damage should be completed in April, a senior U.S. military officer said on Wednesday.
The Caribbean country’s main maritime terminal for import and export shipments was badly damaged in last month’s quake, especially its south pier, initially blocking off a key entry point for urgently needed humanitarian supplies and imports. Divers from the U.S. Navy and other countries have been working for weeks on repairs to clear debris and wreckage from blocked channels and berths, and contractors brought in floating piers to help unload containers.
“We’ve had several days where we’ve delivered 600 containers in a single day, so their capacity is ahead of where they were before the earthquake,” said Major General Daniel Allyn, deputy commander of the U.S. military Joint Task Force participating in the international relief effort in Haiti. This compared to the 200-250 containers the port was handling a month ago, following the disaster. Repairing the main seaport was seen as a critical step to bring in sufficient volumes of humanitarian supplies and equipment needed to help the victims of the quake, which may have killed up to 300,000 people, according to the Haitian government. More than a million people were left homeless and in need of assistance.
“The really good news story is that the Haitians are running port operations at Port-au-Prince, from the ship’s pilotage to the offloading of the ships,” Allyn told Reuters. He said the majority of incoming port traffic in the last week had been commercial cargo, while humanitarian aid cargo had tapered off from previous levels. Off Port-au-Prince, both warships and commercial container ships could be seen. “I think that’s a sign that we’re past the immediate emergency response window and we’re sort of in that phase in between, when the reconstruction cargo starts coming ashore in large numbers,” the U.S. general said. He expected repairs on the south pier, the port’s primary pier before the quake, to be completed about April 10. (Reuters)