PARAMARIBO – Port authorities in French Guyana see the Port of Paramaribo (‘Nieuwe Haven’) mostly as a competitor and not as a development partner, John Defares, director of the Nieuwe Haven, said yesterday during a presentation for ACP-EU delegates who visited the port.
“The port of Cayenne may be the most expensive one in the Western Hemisphere,” Defares said in reply to a question from a French member of parliament. The director claims it is around 60% cheaper to transport goods from France to Suriname and then to French Guyana compared to shipping goods directly to the French overseas territory. The Nieuwe Haven wants to become a transit point for French Guyana, but has received little or no reaction to attempts to establish this cooperation, it says. Defares states this is because the port in Cayenne is managed by the local Chamber of Commerce and thus the business community. “We believe a win-win situation is possible,” he explains. Defares thinks there are many opportunities for businesses in the area of transportation between Paramaribo and Cayenne.
The French port suffers from silting up. Dredging has been expensive and not very effective, Suriname concludes. Loading and unloading also take longer in Cayenne, the Nieuwe Haven claims.
The Nieuwe Haven was built with European funds in the 1970s and has received much support from the EU throughout the years. Defares expressed his appreciation for that yesterday. He painted a rosy picture of the port’s future, pointing to the good infrastructure, well-trained staff and several international certifications.
Yet more investments are needed. The maximum allowed draft of vessels is now 8 meters, and this is too little, the Nieuwe Haven believes. Earlier, the Maritime Authority announced plans to dredge the river so the port can handle bigger ships.