BVI News

Probe — BVIPA not to blame for delays at ports

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Communications and Works, Anthony McMaster.

Investigations have revealed that the BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) is not to blame for the lengthy delays residents experienced to get their imports cleared at the local ports.

Following the September 2017 hurricanes, the BVIPA was heavily criticized and accused of forcing residents to wait several weeks to clear their goods.

But, according to the Ministry of Communications and Works, residents are mostly to blame for the very delays they complained about.

“We’ve done the investigations from the ministry to see whether or not the port is actually slow in getting the stuff to residents. What we are finding out is that in every investigation that we have done, the goods came but the paperwork [to clear the goods] is held up between the agent and the importer for whatever reason,” said the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Anthony McMaster.

“By the time the paperwork actually gets to the ports, it takes possibly two to three days at the longest,” McMaster added.

Back in October, the BVIPA said the delay in releasing goods to residents was due to damage caused to the port facilities by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

How to collect imported goods

When collecting imports, residents are first notified by their shipping agent that cargo has arrived and is available for pick up. The shipper will then provide a bill of lading with their applicable shipping charges.

Once those charges are paid, customers should take both the bill of laden and their receipt to a broker for the preparation of an HMC-12 form.

After the form is completed, customers should take the form to HM Customs at the Port Purcell office for the payment of any Customs duty, if applicable.

Once charges are paid, customers are required to pay wharfage/storage and moving fees, if applicable.

There are no storage fees if goods or supplies are collected within five days of arrival.

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  1. Albion says:

    I call BS. Doesn’t matter who you talk to, they all agree on one thing: ports is a nightmare. To clear your container you have to go to several different desks and pay several different fees – all of them tiny (except customs duty). Why they cannot streamline it so you do all your paperwork one time in one place?

    Then you try to get your container out. But no, someone has stacked it behind a bunch of other containers. You ask how you could get it out but they just shrug their shoulders. Nobody wants to know. Certainly nobody wants to help. You are told to come back another day. And so your container is now part of the problem – blocking up people further back.

    You go into CTL or Drakes Traders and ask about supplies, and they all say the same thing: their supplies are stuck in containers in the port, and they are struggling to get them out. These are building materials that people need to rebuild their homes. All clogged up by our wasteful and inefficient ports.

    The fact that Mr McMaster thinks that it is all the fault of the residents shows that he listens to much to the people are at ports (who want to pass the blame on to someone else) and hasn’t taken the time to get to grips with the problem and really understand it.

    • Labour Department says:

      I would just like to add that the delays at the Labour Department are not the fault of anybody who works for the Labour Department or anybody that works for any part of Government. It is the fault of the ex pats who are so desperate to work here that they flood us with pages of needless application forms filled with information that we never check. Have you ever seen the amount of information that the ex pats insist on submitting. It is ridiculous, and they have dreamt up a system that is almost designed to slow the process down. How are we expected to do our internet shopping if we can’t see our computer screens for the mountains of irrelevant paper that the ex pats insist on filing. Things will not get better whilst the ex pats insist on sticking to these ridiculous working practices.

      • @ Labour Department says:

        Don’t leave out that the application won’t get processed at all if you don’t first pay the workers directly. They are truly sickening.

  2. Wow says:

    This man serious? And we wonder why nothing at govt level will change? … Instead of casting blame why not tell the ppl what plans are there to streamline things and make it easier. Its just easier to say its our fault?

  3. Gag! says:

    Of course there’s no blame. It has to be everyone else’s fault, always is here … you guys are a beacon of efficiency in dark days. 😉

  4. Socrates says:

    Can ministries/government investigate itself and get the information needed to right itself ? Would any ministry ever accept any cause(s)/blame for problem(s) ? Do they not always try to spin things to make themselves look good? Do clearing goods seem highly bureaucratic? Are there too much running around to clear goods? Does the process needs to be streamlined? So the BVIPA played no part in the delay of clearing goods. Does anyone believe this? Would it not have better to accept its share of the blame and move on to improve any weaknesses?

  5. .... says:

    What a load of rubbish! The system at Port Purcell is designed to waste as much people’s time as possible. In the warehouse, sometimes the people put your goods in the oddest places that even their colleagues can’t find them, which makes one to believe that they are looking to go with your things.

    • BVIPA Worker says:

      First of all aint nobody hiding nor tryin to go with yall stuff if u ever been at the port u wud notice that we have limited space….
      Secondly u guys want to order stuff and want to come a collect ya stuff 4-5 weeks later so where exactly wud u like us to store these things stop ordering stuff u dont need because it is duty free
      finally..u guys expect to walk into the port and get service and attended ryte away when there is 5-6 ppl in front of u…..the problem with here u guys think because u are BVILANDERS when u guys say jump we have to ask how high…but wen u travel to overseas countries u guys have to wait without any arguement or complains u guys are humble and MUTE for example STT u guys stand in line quietly and obey the orders..SOOOO wen u come to the port because of the back log we expect u to be patient with us….Or else DONT SHIP ANYTHING……and another thing most of the delays are the results of the shippers not destuffing on time it is not the BVIPA fault..Have A nice Day…

      • Luvz says:

        Haha????. You sure told them..stop order because it’s duty free????????????. You have me cracking up whoever you are. I needed that laugh.

  6. Well Well says:

    What is this. I paid for my supplies (2) weeks now and the container still not open.whoo to blame.

  7. Dragon says:

    The port is a complete mess and no one takes responsibility and why is no one doing anything about theft going on.

  8. Customer says:


  9. IMPORTER says:

    I had a large order coming in – urgently needed by BVI EC. It took over three weeks to get it out. All docs were in order and paid for. The trucker went 5 times to pick it up. I had to pay all those trips. Over a week we were told every day that “we have not reached offloading the container yet where your palettes are in”. Not good at all

  10. Haha haha says:

    Really ????? That’s some serious bold-face nonsense, and its actually rather insulting to the residents of the Territory, a slap in the face. WOW…

    Nothing surprises me anymore!

  11. Liddy says:

    I don’t believe the blocking containers belong to ports’ so if those large companies who they belong to would take them off thenPort others would not be blocked. So again it seems like other customers who are not taking their containers are responsible for the blockage. We have to look at the larger picture. What does BVIPA import for sale? The port is only so big and EVERYONE importing goods need to clear them as soon as they arrive especially if they are container loads and this must account for something. Why the hell should one company have over 30 containers at the Port? There must be blockage – some of them are using the port as their storage site. They need to lease space for that. Port need to charge some heavy fees for that and you will see how fast it will change.

  12. Jokes says:

    This is what happens when TOTAL INCOMPETENCE is left to rule! Some people are in positions where we know they can’t do the job but they’re local so we turn a blind eye until the s*&t hits the fan. “Hi s*&t, meet fan, have fun!”

    • If you only know says:

      Who in the kitchen feels the heat. Locals are often set up fail. It is important that support is given by the different ministries responsible. We hold the hands of those coming from abroad from infantry to adulthood while we sit on the side and criticize others. This is a known fact. I went to Antigua one time and one of the ministers of government there said what is happening in the BVI could never happen in Antigua. He made it clear that there government jobs are for antiguans. Recently went to Bermuda and heard the same thing. They have appropximately 1200 work permits and a program whereby a native must understudy a work permit holder in certain positions. Bermuda is also a BOT but BVI has 12,000 work ppermits.

      If I manage a unit in government and try to enforce the laws of that body and my boss keeps overturning my decisions then I will certainly appear unproductive but may fe far from it.

  13. Watcher says:

    The desription of the mind boggling bureaucracy just to retrieve a parcel at the port should tell you all you need to know.

    There are currently no customs duties on most things but the mindless bureaucracy demands that you provide an invoice for shipping charges even if paid for by the sender.

    The BVIs number one industry is not Finance or Tourism. It is the creation of useless paperwork.

  14. Watcher says:

    The only thing worse than a bad workman blaming his tools is him blaming his customers.

  15. Watcher says:


  16. Red lion says:

    Government need to bring back duty.

  17. Half Right says:

    While all of you bloggers may have some half truth to what each of you have opined,the thing to do is to get all of the stake holders in a round table setting and thrash things out. Look at the present situation, identify the bottle necks and revise processes as we go forward.

    I have had several shipments cleared at the Port and Tropical Shipping and its mode of operandi is the biggest problem.

    A hurricane just devastated our islands. This devastation included one of the warehouses. This means that there is very limited space but yet, Tropical Shipping continues to offload anywhere between 15 to 20 containers twice weekly.

    Folks this is a nightmare to say the least! Instead of people putting all the blame on the Port’s staff, Tropical Shipping need to get even tougher on their shipping and storage policies. I know that they have begun; you now have to produce an invoice at the point of origin for your cargo or it’s not sailing.

    At first, I was livid when I heard about that but being on the ground here and seeing things for my self, I do think it was necessary.

    Lastly, that company that has in excess of 30 containers up there and no pick update in sight, fine them heavily, or else a more drastic measure is to write them and give them an ultimatum: either pickup or no more shipments will be accepted on their behalf.

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