New frontiers have been created with the construction of the Deep Water Harbour which has since expanded into the bustling Bridgetown Port of today.
In the 1970s the container revolution was gaining momentum, thus propelling the Port to expand to meet the new box transportation era in shipping. Additional land reclamation was made in 1978 when some 6.5 hectares of land was reclaimed, along with other infrastructural development to include the area that houses Shed 4 and the Shallow Draught facilities.
The Port has seen several administrative changes subsequent to its establishment. Originally administered as Port Contractors Limited, the Barbados Port Authority was formed in 1979 as a Statutory Board. At the end of 2003 the organization was converted into a corporatized company now known as Barbados Port Inc registered under the Companies Act of Barbados.
Following a study in the 1990s which indicated that Bridgetown was coming to a crossroads, the Port, in order to meet the needs of the twenty-first century, embarked a on Reform and Expansion project to upgrade its human resources pool, improve technology and security, renovate infrastructure, and expand on its core businesses of cargo handling and the cruise sector.
In 1998 the master plan 2000 was completed and called for the construction of a new cruise pier to separate cruise and cargo operations, expansion of the passenger terminal facilities, building of Berth 5, and the expansion of port storage capacity by land reclamation north of Shed 4.
The inner harbour was dredged in 2002 to accommodate the larger mega-cruise ships which were being built, and further land reclamation was possible using the dredged material to add nine more acres to the Port's land inventory.
Most visible has been the work completed along Trevor's Way where a new revetment has been constructed, and the access to the main entrance to the Port landscaped. The container yard has been repaved, existing water mains replaced, the cross berth repaired, and Berth 4 extended, with financing from local commercial banks.
The Bridgetown Port is now a modern facility, structured to ensure its competitiveness and maximum operational efficiency. Berth 5 has been added with an additional 150 m and on it a Panamax Gantry crane has been placed. The crane was part of a $100 million project for the reorganization of the Port facility, which included five Diesel-Electric straddle carriers and other container and cargo handling equipment. The Port now has deeper berthing areas and acres of reclaimed land, as we build capacity to accommodate larger Cruise and Cargo vessels.
The future of the Bridgetown Port looks bright as we now start Berth 6, which is located to the north of the Port and will provide over 300m of additional berth for vessels using the Port. Meanwhile we will continue our competency-based training for all our direct labour, ensure compliance with international standards in terms of security and quality, implement strategies for use of renewable energy and environmentally focused initiatives that will contribute to the Port being best in class in the Region, both from a cargo and cruise perspective.
The Bridgetown Port could not have achieved the success over the years without the commitment and dedication of a highly productive work force, and former port workers are saluted for their sterling contribution. With generally harmonious labour relations being the order of the day, the Barbados Workers' Union has also played a significant role in shaping the destiny of the Port. The contribution of past Chairmen and General Managers is recognized, and the close working relationship with key stake‑holders is acknowledged.
The efficiency gains and improved service to various stakeholders and Port users, to be secured by investments to upgrade the infrastructure and technology, along with changes in the organizational structure, should serve Barbados well into the future, and maintain the Port's enviable position as a premier port in the region, as it continually strives to be 'Best in Class'.