Flores island businesses may have to close

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 14-11-2019 15:23:00 · 0 Comments

Businesses on the island of Flores in the Azores are considering closing their establishments because of a lack of goods, few of which have arrived on the island due to the damage caused to the commercial port by the hurricane Lorenzo.

"I don't believe we can last until December in these conditions. There's going to have to be a drastic cut in the structure if we want to keep the company open," said Jorge Dias in a statement to Lusa, a businessman linked to retailing and distribution, with store in the municipality of Lajes das Flores.

The hurricane, which crossed the archipelago in the early hours of 2 October, destroyed the island's commercial port, preventing the regular operation of container ships that supplied Flores.

The service that is being provisionally ensured since then by vessels from the company Transportes Marítimos Graciosenses (TMG), which can dock at a smaller interior wharf.

"The problem is that TMG ships can only transport ten containers on each voyage, and the island of Flores received, about 60 containers a fortnight before the hurricane," the businessman said, to conclude that the current operation of transporting goods to Flores, "cannot keep pace with the orders.

Concerned about the future of his business is also Arlindo Lourenço, one of the main entrepreneurs of Flores, who has four establishments in the municipality of Santa Cruz, including a shopping centre.

"At the maximums, if by the end of November my company has not stabilised, I will hardly be able to continue working," the Florentine businessman warned, recalling that his business has 33 employees, which represents an "exorbitant" monthly cost, which he will not be able to continue to support in a crisis scenario like the current one.

Arlindo Lourenço also talked about the "chaotic" situation for local commerce, especially now that the Christmas season is approaching, due to the late arrival of a lot of goods, some of which are landed damaged or out of date of consumption, such as fresh and perishable products.

"The situation is chaotic. There are dozens and dozens of containers in the port of Praia da Vitória [on the island of Terceira], some of which have been there for a month on the pier, and we cannot find a way to get them to the island of Flores", lamented the local businessman, clarifying that, for the time being, there are still no ruptures of essential goods.

The Flores businessmen demand that the Regional Government find a solution to the problem, namely by chartering or acquiring a smaller container ship than those that operated before the destruction of the commercial port, but larger than the vessels that currently operate to the island.

The lack of response in terms of transport of containerised goods to Flores is also affecting other sectors of activity, such as civil construction (imports of raw material) and farming (export of livestock), which have been limited in the movement of cargo, since the priority has been the transport of basic necessities.

During the passage of "Lorenzo" through the Azores in October, 255 occurrences were recorded and 53 people had to be relocated.

The hurricane caused the total destruction of the port of Lajes das Flores.

In total, the bad weather caused damage of around 330 million euros, according to the Regional Government of the Azores, chaired by the socialist Vasco Cordeiro.


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