ITF advises: keep port planning options open

Container ship ITF has stressed that the market prospects of developing new container ports should be thoroughly assessed. Credit: ITF

Port planning should consider a full range of potential scenarios for trade and containerisation, an International Transport Forum (ITF) roundtable on container port strategy has found.

The roundtable, which took place in Buenos Aires in April 2017 and sought to address the challenges container ports face and the problems they have to solve, also concluded that “uncertainty implies that capacity expansion should be designed to be as modular and flexible as possible.”

In its report, ITF stressed that the market prospects of developing new container ports should be thoroughly assessed because while public policy tends to focus on developing large hub ports, often seeking to expand transhipment, transhipment margins are small and the costs of transhipment ports are large and usually covered by the public purse.

ITF said: “Not all ports can be hubs and feedering is often more efficient,”adding that feedering will become more prevalent worldwide.

Coupled efficiency

The effectiveness of port-gate policies such as such as truck appointment systems is increased if it is coupled to measures to increase the visibility of cargo flows, e.g. via port community systems for information exchange within the port – and through the more extended cargo community systems.

Truck appointment systems are also more effective if introduced together with truck waiting areas and incentives to enforce the system, the report said.

It advised stimulate cooperation between stakeholders in the maritime logistics chain to increase efficiency. Inefficiencies are the result of a lack of effective communication, coordination and alignment and this can only be solved via collaboration of the stakeholders involved in the maritime supply chain.

ITF recommended that in the Argentinean context, the long-term location options for container ports should be strategically assessed.

Expiration of existing terminal concessions in 2020 requires a policy response that could include expansion of container operations in Puerto Nuevo to meet growing demand in the short and possibly the medium term but other options will also be needed in the longer term, stated ITF.

Feedering to hubs outside Argentina will remain important and a thorough strategic discussion is warranted on the benefits and costs of the different location options for container ports in Argentina, it stressed.

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