Cemex steps up the pressure

Cemex steps up the pressure
Published: 04 August 2004

With claims that the crew of the Mary Nour are carrying SARS infections, that the Russian cargo is possibly contaminated by radiation and thousands of Mexican workers are about to lose their jobs, the situation  of the Mary Nour currently stranded in the port of Altamira, Mexico, while not yet desperate, is certainly not looking good.

Readers will recall that the ship was banned from entering Tampico port, Mexico in late-July by a court order and after a stand-off with local officials was eventually granted permission to berth at the nearby private port of Altamira. While this was seen as a partial victory for the cargo receivers, their optimism has been short-lived in that port officials there have now stated that the ship cannot discharge cement there because they are not authorised to handle cement, only grains and minerals. Worse still, if the cargo owners cannot prove that they have paid all necessary dues relevant to the import of such goods then the cargo, some 26,219t will be seized by the  Federal State Treasury.

Advisor for owners Comercio for Desarrollo Mexicano (CDM), Ricardo Alessio, claims that Cemex are splitting legal hairs in their atttempts to block the ship because of their fears of free competition while a spokesman for Cemex has indicated that at no time has it acted against free cement imports. Luis Bonales Suarez acting for CDM remains convinced that the ship will be eventually allowed back into Tampico port so that  the ship can be unloaded.

Meanwhile, The Confederation of Workers of Mexico (CTM) and the General Union of Cement Workers, alerted to the possible ‘illegal’ arrival of the ship have suggested that she ship may contain illegal contrabrand and that such cement discharge will have a very grave effect on jobs in the cement industry. Accordingly plans for major protest rallies are now planned to avoid the dismissal of many Mexican cement workers. At the same time local environmental groups have also been mobilised as the silo ship will generate significant levels of pollution and must be stopped.

CDM officials seem determined to continue the fight and explore all legal avenues in their attempts to get their cement import operation up and running, but in the meantime, Cemex, appears to be well ahead on points.