Since last night, it been all over the evening news that businessman Jack Charles cannot get his 3 containers of Guyanese rice cleared. They're held at the Big Creek Port - a place that doesn't get into the headlines much.

But, make no mistake, Big Creek is big business, and very quietly, they are on a rapid plan for expansion.

While our news team had the opportunity, we tried to learn a bit more about the country's second major Port. Daniel Ortiz has that story:

Daniel Ortiz reporting
The Port of Big Creek...It's been in operation since 1990, and currently, it's the only port in Belize where cargo vessels can pull right up to the mainland of Independence and Mango Creek.

Here on the edge of the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts, the port's compound is sprawling, and always bustling.

Yesterday, the employees gave us a tour of the facility to see some of its more prominent features.

As you would expect, there were rows and rows of containers upon containers, each stacked and organized through a meticulous system to ensure inventory reliability and the best use of the facility's area. There is also a trove of heavy-duty equipment, all of which represent major investments.

This is privately owned with a majority shareholder.

Gustavo Carrillo - Manager, Port of Big Creek
"We were the first private port in Belize and we have always been private and we are here to provide a service. Its own by Banana Enterprises Limited. The Port of Big Creek, we have the facility to accommodate basically about 3-4 vessels the size that dock in Belize City at the same time. We have all the government agencies in place to facilitate the entering of the vessels and clearing of cargos. So Big Creek Port is definitely an option. The only disadvantage is the distance between Big Creek and Belize City."

But, Southern Belize is home for a number of agricultural industries, which are also major export earners for the country. That's where Big Creek's main business comes in. This port devotes a massive 90% of its operations to accommodate the agro-producers who are export-capable.

Big Creek is therefore directly involved with a huge portion of the country's export traffic.

Gustavo Carrillo - Manager, Port of Big Creek
"We have a vessel where we export bananas every week. We export about 120 - 40 foot refrigerator containers on an average. That vessel calls every week. Besides that, we have a vessel that calls, that take out some crude oil, that exported from Belize. We also have a cargo vessel that comes out of Mobile Alabama with some general cargo. We have our barging service out of Guatemala to Big Creek and also we have a small vessel that brings in banana boxes that are produce in Honduras. The Port of Big Creek you would say is like 90% of the cargo we handle is export. I would say maybe 10% is import unlike Belize City where the bulk of the consumers are up north, so the cargo going to Belize City is distributed in that area."

Being a port, the facility's cargo loading and offloading operations are handled by stevedores, much like the ones in Belize City.

So, far Big Creek Port has not had any reported breakdowns in industrial relationship quite unlike the Port of Belize in Belize City.

Yet these workers are a major part of the personnel at Big Creek.

Gustavo Carrillo - Manager, Port of Big Creek
"We have about 77 stevedores. Out of those 77, I would say 58 work continuously. What happen with our stevedores at the Port of Big Creek, is that we have a lot of programs that we have them involved. First of all I would say they are treated very well. We have like program like for housing. We have a solidarity program where they put in some funds and the company matches that, which if they stop working they would have funds that they could rely on. We have a health insurance, we have a life insurance. So they are treated very well."

There is a vision for continued expansion at this facility.

Gustavo Carrillo - Manager, Port of Big Creek
"We are expanding one of the berths. The steel that you see alongside the berth is a steel sheet piles that's been installed to increase the size of the berth. The trend with shipping is that the vessels are getting bigger and you need more draft in regards to water depth and so you have vessels that are getting larger and that requires deeper water and for that reason we are expanding. We have expanded the berths. We have dredge alongside the berths to 11 meters. However we are finishing the channel and we will go to a depth of 11 meters. At that point we would be able to accommodate a vessel I would say about 225 meters in length and 10.5 meters draft."

The Port is welcoming all business persons who would want to ship cargo through their facility.

Channel 7