Venezuelan state control over ports hits operations
Diario "El Universal", 08th August 2012
Centralization of Venezuelan seaports and airports took place in 2009 when the Government led by President Hugo Chávez made the decision. Amid a massive wave of seizures and nationalizations, Chávez also reversed the decentralization process that had been introduced years before. "We are going to set up both a national seaport corporation and a national and international airport corporation under the leadership of the State, as it should have been from the beginning," said President Chávez in March 2009. Such actions would be supported by a "Strategic plan of investment, overhaul, and development of seaports and airports." Today, three years after the implementation of such measure, the situation of Venezuelan national seaports is quite discouraging. The President himself admitted that the main port of the country is abandoned. "The port of Puerto Cabello (state of Carabobo, north Venezuela) is abandoned," said Chávez during his recent visit to Carabobo, reported daily newspaper Notitarde. In 2010, thousands of tons of expired food were found in seaports nationwide. The findings -known as the "Pdval scandal"- revealed, among other things, the inefficient work done at the national seaports. "There is a huge gap in terms of logistics in Bolipuertos (state company Bolivariana de Puertos). Since the Venezuelan State took over ports operations, there have been many issues," another source claimed. Sustained increase in imports, especially those conducted by the State, limitations of Bolipuertos', and poor coordination with other public institutions are some of the characteristics that define ports administration by the State. Figures recorded by the private sector show that both downloading of containers and customs clearance have slowed down. Translated by Jhean Cabrera.