Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 20 November the European Commission commenced the process for reviewing the 2013 TEN-T guidelines with a public consultation before summer.
This was reported the same day and it is learnt that ESPO believes the review should not lead to a complete change of direction in the TEN-T policy.
Furthermore, ESPO believes that the rationale of the 2013 guidelines remains the same: achieving an efficient, sustainable and multimodal Transport Infrastructure Network (TEN) in Europe.
The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) however believes that the European Commission should use the review as an opportunity to level the playing field between the maritime and the land links.
In the words of ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost: ‘More than 30 % of intra-EU freight traffic is currently going over sea. The ongoing digitalisation, the progress on the internal market for maritime transport with the new European Single Window Environment framework and the greening of shipping, which seems to be delivering first on the short sea links, will give maritime transport within the EU, and even within one Member State, a new impetus. It is now time to fully recognise the contribution of maritime transport to the aims of Europe’s Transport Infrastructure policy. The maritime dimension must be brought on an equal footing with the land-based corridors and links.’
More concretely, ESPO refers to the following discrepancies between the maritime and the land network:
The TEN-T guidelines are currently only recognising maritime links between two Member States as TEN-T short sea links, the so-called Motorways of the Sea. The links between two ports within one Member State are not considered as Motorways of the Sea, whereas the TEN-T road or rail network is also recognising the national stretches as part of the TEN-T network.
Even if seaports are in most cases situated on the territory of one Member State, they are a part of the maritime border of a country. Being the gateway for trade with other EU member states and third countries, maritime ports must be seen as cross-border entities or sections. Moreover, also in their hinterland, ports are serving a catchment area that largely exceeds the local or national borders.
The full contribution of ESPO to the public consultation on the review of the Regulation 1315/2013 on Union Guidelines for the Development of the Trans-European Transport Network can be found here: https://www.espo.be/media/2019.09%20TEN-T%20review%20consultation%202019%20-%20espo%20position%20-%20FINAL.pdf
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the commitment of 12 countries to facilitate crew changes and achieve key worker designation for seafarers, following a virtual ministerial summit hosted by the UK Government on 9 July. This step represents significant progress to help resolve a growing crisis facing the maritime industry, and enable hundreds of thousands of stranded seafarers to go home or join ships.
In a joint statement, representatives from 12 countries expressed their deep concern about the current crisis and acknowledged that “the inability of ship operators worldwide to conduct ship’s crew changes is the single most pressing maritime operational challenge to the safe and efficient movement of global trade”.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions and border closures imposed by Governments around the world have caused significant hurdles to crew changes and left hundreds of thousands of seafarers stranded onboard ships, or unable to join ships. It is currently estimated that at least 200,000 seafarers worldwide are stranded on ships and require immediate repatriation, and a similar number urgently need to join ships to replace them. This has led to a growing humanitarian crisis, in addition to concerns that seafarer fatigue and mental health issues may lead to serious maritime accidents. There are also concerns about the continuity of the global supply chain.
French container carrier, CMA CGM has announced its intention of launching a new product called Round the Africa (RTA) service to add to and complement the current 31 CMA CGM services already operating to sub-Saharan Africa.
A bit of a misnomer, the service is unique in terms of providing a direct service from Asia to Senegal and Sierra Leone along with best transit times, as well as calls to other selected West African ports.
Dakar is reached weekly from Ningbo in 35 days, from Nansha in 32 days. Freetown (Sierra Leone) is reached in 35 days from Nansha. The service offer to Tema (Ghana) is improved with three weekly departures.
‘Our exporters from West Africa will benefit of excellent transit time and direct service to China. Shanghai is reached in 29 days from Abidjan, 31 days from Tema, 36 days from Freetown and 39 days from Dakar,’ says the line in a statement.
One is left to assume the Round Africa part comes from the ships returning to Asia via the Cape of Good Hope.
Round the Africa service rotation is as follows:
Shanghai – Ningbo – Nansha – Singapore – Malta – Tanger – Dakar – Freetown – Tema – Abidjan – Port Kelang – Shanghai