Maritime and port operators in Ushuaia, extreme south of Argentina are disappointed because they have been relegated which means delays and additional costs, since cruise vessels have top docking priority, and this has been quite a successful season with many visitors' landings.
Apparently what has been described as a nightmare by port operators and local businesses waiting for supplies and imports, follows on strict instructions from the Tierra del Fuego province government to promote tourism. In effect even when a normal cargo ship is operating in Ushuaia's port, if a cruise representative turns up requesting for docking space, the cargo ship must cease operations and wait in the bay.
What is happening is simply senseless, our vessels which render a regular supply service, vital for the province, its industries, economy and also the local population must wait while the big cruise vessels call in Ushuaia, complains one of the port operators.
Two vessels are normally involved in supplying the main port of Tierra del Fuego, Asturiano II and Argentino II, and they arrive with construction material, supplies for the technological maquila industries in the Ushuaia free zone, food, pharmaceutical products, and leave with containers filled with technological products, processed fish and even wool on occasions, but if a cruise vessel calls, they have priority. This is equivalent to some US$ 20.000 per day in additional costs.
Apparently in their last call, Asturiano II was delayed four days and Argentino II almost a week. This situation is particularly nerve racking true during weekends when the peak of cruise traffic.
During the administration of previous president Mauricio Macri, funds were made to extend and expand port facilities but works have been abandoned and there is no idea if and when they will resume. Since the nineties when Carlos Menem was president the management of Argentine ports became responsibility of the provincial governments.
However given the current situation local port operators are considering making a direct appeal to the Ministry of Transport to attempt at least a more fair balance as to the handling of vessels in the scarce space of Ushuaia docks
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