October 16, 2009
European Commission funding OECS Shipping study

The European Commission is providing 200,000 euros towards an OECS shipping study which will try to determine whether a system of passenger, freight and combined transport routes can be developed.{{more}}

This is in an effort to enhance the export capabilities of the islands’ agricultural output, and provide alternative passenger routes which satisfy demand for travel between OECS member countries, as well as explore possible pricing structures that can satisfy adequate return to operators.

Two main outcomes of the study are to conduct a passenger demand survey and to ascertain whether such a shipping service would be sustainable over a long period. It is also expected that recommendations will be made with respect to the structure, characteristics, form, routes and appropriate costing of an OECS shipping line.

With rising food costs worldwide and in the Caribbean within the past year and a half, there has been tremendous pressure on regional leaders to conceptualise a food security plan and it is felt that the establishment of a shipping line will assist in this endeavour. Whereas certain Islands may have a surplus of agricultural products, lack of shipping freight lines does not facilitate the movement of produce to neighbouring countries where there is a demand. Further the lack of adequate intra-regional shipping facilities before and after a natural disaster is a continued impediment to the implementation of preparedness and post disaster activities.

To address these issues, a workshop was held during May 2008 in St Vincent with representatives from the host country and also Dominica, St Lucia and Grenada with an objective of drawing up the Terms of Reference for a feasibility study to resolve these issues.

The study which gets underway in mid-October is expected to last three months and will solicit views from various civil society organisations, government agencies and regional development bodies. The consultants will also be undertaking a series of field visits in order to gather information, which will be followed by an inception report.