Ferry plans for Maui elbow out cargo firm
WAILUKU » Interisland barge operator Young Brothers Ltd. is warning that a delay in a state Public Utilities Commission decision will cause chaos in the port at Kahului Harbor.
State transportation officials have asked Young Brothers to reduce its space at Kahului Harbor by 23 percent by January or February to make way for the Hawaii Superferry, a Young Brothers press release said yesterday.
Company officials said with the shrinkage of space, it cannot operate safely without a reduction or delay in services. The company has asked the PUC to allow it to discontinue carrying less than a container load of cargo and permit commercial freight consolidators to handle small loads.
But Young Brothers officials said that on May 11 the commission suspended making a decision on the firm's request, a delay that could result in a decision as late as November.
Young Brothers officials said the company, along with customers and freight consolidators, needs at least seven months to purchase equipment and secure facilities to handle the additional cargo load.
Young Brothers said freight consolidators would want to know the commission has approved the decision before purchasing equipment and facilities.
Young Brothers President Glenn Hong said because of Maui's strong economy, the company is already operating well beyond the Kahului Harbor facility's design capacity.
"Our customers and employees are being asked to do what is logistically impossible," Hong said. "We have already exceeded capacity at the port, and the forced reduction of space means that we need to find a solution."
Hong said having freight handled by consolidators outside the harbor is the only viable option.
Businesses on Molokai are worried that cargo to and from Maui could be delayed or become more expensive if freight forwarders are unable to fill a container.
Lynn De Coite, a member of the Molokai Chamber of Commerce, said farmers could have their produce left on the dock if they do not have a full container to go to Maui.