KINNESHA GEORGE-HARRY and STEPHON NICHOLAS
Studley Park Enterprises Ltd has been granted a three-month licence to export aggregate from the Studley Park Quarry to Guyana. The announcement was made by Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles last Wednesday following a post-budget retreat at Mt Irvine Bay Hotel.
Describing this as a huge development for the island, Charles said the licence is for three months (November 1 - January 31) in the first instance, following which he would make representation to the Minister of Trade and Industry for its continuation.
According to Charles the Export TT Licence will allow for the export of four categories of aggregate to Guyana for an initial period of three months. The estimated projected revenue for the three-month period, if all four categories are exported, is US$340,000 (TT$2.3 million). The first shipment of aggregate is expected in two weeks.
“That is huge…it is big, because for the first time the quarry will be able to generate foreign exchange and the truth be told, this has been accomplished within three years of its restructuring,” Charles said adding that it does signal a commitment on the part of those who have the responsibility to lead and manage Tobago to make efficient use of natural resources.
“We are already exporting to Trinidad, as we seek to make sure that for Tobagonians, we generate income on our own steam to support our developmental efforts here on the island."
He said the success of the company so far must not be taken for granted as there were things that needed to be put in place.
“It did take some work to restructure; the jetty was repaired in no time after being out for commission for a number of years and that jetty has been used to facilitate the transport of aggregate to Trinidad and will also be used as a basis to transport aggregate to Guyana, before that we had to do it by trucks on the boat or on the ferry.”
Responding to questions from Newsday, Quarries Secretary Kwesi Des Vignes said "this is an exciting achievement in the life of our company."
Des Vignes hailed Charles' "transformation" of the company to become profitable.
"Productivity has increased to more than 400 per cent since the restructuring of the business arrangement and model. We now see the enterprise reliably meeting the demands of both local and national market," he said.
Des Vignes said Studley Park is now "a major industry player on the national plane; our aggregate is being used to do major coastal protective work in Trinidad and in Tobago as well."
On breaking into the Guyana market, he added, "There is great value in this. What this means is the opportunity to generate revenue for the people of Tobago, and more importantly foreign exchange. Moreover, acquiring of the Export Licence for aggregate shipment to Guyana opens the door to a new facet in this company’s growth and development. It is well known that aggregate products from our quarry are of the highest quality worldwide – our competitive advantage."Asked how the export arrangement to Guyana materialised, Des Vignes said, "There were several marketing campaigns, which included site visits with major contractors in Trinidad. It was during one of these meetings that the opportunity of exporting to Guyana concretised. Several other meetings occurred which eventually resulted in the decision to acquire the Export Licence.
"All our activities have been directed to fulfilling the goals of enhancing productive and commercialising this berthing facility for barges. Among others, such activities included the rehabilitation of the Barbados Bay Jetty and the refurbishment of the Crushing Plants and support equipment."
Des Vignes said Studley Park has become significant nationally and has helped fixed the coastal erosion problems in TT recently.
"Over the past nine months, there has been a drive by the Ministry of Works and Transport to protect the country’s coastlines from coastal erosion. In addressing this coastal erosion, Studley Park Enterprise Ltd has been called upon to supply the relevant required material, in the form of armour rocks/boulders. This material is exported from Tobago via barges to Trinidad. Therefore, Studley Park has impacted these coastal protection projects (Mosquito Creek, Sans Souci, Cap-De-Ville, Quinam) by supplying some 26 barge loads (over 90,000MT) of armour rocks/boulders."