Pintard hits out at JDL as operations to begin

• JDL Cargo Management to Begin LPIA Operations in February

• Operational License Required for LPIA Operators in 14 Days

• Major Renovations Planned for LPIA Cargo Terminal in 14-18 Months

By Fay Simmons

Tribune Business Reporter

In a widely circulated memorandum yesterday, the chief operations officer of JDL Cargo Management said that effective February 19 the company was to commence operations within the Lyndon Pindling International Airport (LPIA).

The memorandum also advised operators they will be required to obtain an operational license within the next 14 days and that “major renovations and construction” will be done over the next 14 to 18 months.

“To ensure a seamless and efficient operation within our facility, each operator will be required to execute an operational licence within the next 14 days. This licence is pivotal for granting access and use of the facility under the governance of established guidelines and protocols,” the memorandum said.

“It is designed to maintain the highest standards of service, security, and safety for all stakeholders. It will cover information related to insurance and deposit requirements (where applicable), tariffs, waste management and the operation of heavy machinery inside an outside of the facility.

“We are excited to share that over the next 14 to 18 months, our facility will undergo major renovations and construction to elevate the standard of our cargo handling capabilities. Our vision is to offer a world-class air cargo facility that meets and exceeds the expectations of our clients and stakeholders.”

Last year, it was revealed that government planned to outsource LPIA freight terminal to private sector developers and operators.

Documents accompanying the 2023-2024 Budget, in an annex detailing private-public partnerships (PPP), lay out the “justification to design, finance, build and operate a new air freight terminal”.

“The purpose of this proposal is for the government to transfer the property consisting of the Air Freight Terminal to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) owned by the Government, and then to lease that property to JDL in order to design, finance, build and operate a new air freight terminal,” the Budget documents state.

A $25m deal was struck with JDL for the renovation of the cargo terminal and concerns have been raised that the company will implement a 40 cent per pound cargo fee.

Opposition leader Michael Pintard said that they are “distressed” that the government chose to hand over the management of airfreight to a company with “no track record”.

He said: “We are distressed to learn via a memorandum being circulated to Air Freight brokers and dealers that the Davis administration has executed a deal to hand over the handling of airfreight coming into LPIA to a new company, JDL management - an entity with reportedly no track record whatsoever in operations of this nature.

“Worse, if the initial reports are true, the value of this contract is some $25m to be paid by an extra fee attached to every Bahamian bringing in any item shipped by air.”

Mr Pintard said that the Davis administration did not conduct the required bidding process before signing the deal with JDL and questioned how the private entity will work with customs personnel to ensure that goods are properly accounted for.

He said: “As far as we are aware, there was no bidding for this work. Despite the massive sums that this brand-new company will be paid, and even though it will undoubtedly inflate the cost for thousands of everyday Bahamians to bring in goods, not one Minister or other elected official has said anything about this looming multi-million dollar burden.

“Enquiring minds want to know: Will the government address how the Customs Department and other government agencies factor into the new and unfamiliar arrangement? Do they have an answer to the growing security concerns surrounding the cross-border movement of freight involving a private operator? Is this just another inconvenience that Bahamians will be expected to navigate without the full and complete picture?”