Valentín Choya: “The BIPs must be tools for collaboration with companies”

Interview with Valentín Choya, manager of Sucarn and BIP user

Q- How would you assess the improvements made to the BIPs in Barcelona?
A- I find them very positive. Above all, it is very important that a single managing director has been designated for the BIPs at Barcelona Port and Airport. It is vital to have one person to unify criteria and to whom we can turn to address problems and queries.

Q- These improvements have long been called for by Mercabarna business owners...
A- For many years now, we business owners have been calling for improvements in the operation of these services through Assocome (the Mercabarna Concessionaires’ Association). I’ve always thought the BIPs should be tools for collaboration, consultation and support for users, i.e. companies that serve society. It’s a joint effort. We’re not enemies.

Q- What were the chief shortcomings of the facilities?
A- Short opening hours, not enough staff to do the job, precarious infrastructures and, more than anything, lack of space. Granted, improvements have been made to the Port facilities, but we still need to have a BIP with infrastructures to match the Port of Barcelona’s stature as an entrance gateway for goods from around the world.

Q- What was business owners’ experience of the situation?
A- To tell you the truth, it was fraught with anxiety. Every time your goods reached the Port, you’d think, “What’s going to happen? Will I have them in time?”

Q- What problems have you had?
A- In our case, problems with the documentation that has to be presented when the container arrives. An incorrect date, an importer’s name missing, etc.,, but we’ve never had problems of cargo being defective. This is because we take pains ahead of time to ensure the product is in perfect condition. And yet despite having an impeccable trajectory, they’ll stop a container because there may be one mistake in a word in a document!

Q- If they stop it, how long can the goods be held up?
A- Under normal conditions and if everything goes well, I’ll have the product on my business premises in 48 hours. But if there are problems... Once they stopped our merchandise because the BIP employee insisted we submit the documentation according to regulations we knew hadn’t yet gone into effect. So the container was stuck for an additional two days in the Port until he accepted we were right.

Q-What does it mean for business when your goods are tied up for extra days in the Port?
A- It’s money you lose. Everything has a price: occupying a space in the Port, moving the container from one place to another and so on. Add this to the losses you have if you’ve got the transport and personnel lined up and ready to pick up the product and prepare the orders. And, worst of all, you let down your customers. And because it’s fresh produce, it loses value with each day that goes by. Imagine if it’s fresh seafood flown in … this has happened to many Mercabarna fish business owners!

Q- Speaking of planes, what about the Airport BIP?
A- I haven’t used it in a long time. I had problems with a few delays so now I prefer to bring my produce in through Madrid Airport. It’s an additional cost but it’s worth it. The service is fast and smooth. The container arrives, it passes the inspection and it’s in my hands the next day.