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.
With the slogan ‘Transport keeps us going’, the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO), together with 33 organisations issued a Declaration on 24 March stressing the essential role transport is playing in the corona crisis.
Isabelle Ryckbost, ESPO Secretary General, commented: ‘Transport and logistics play a crucial role in the supply of essential goods in this critical period. To ensure that transport can continue to keep us going, the free flow of goods between Member States must be guaranteed. We must also support and encourage all the people working in transport.
‘Their contribution in overcoming this crisis is vital. In times of emergency, ports have an essential role in providing citizens, health services and businesses with the goods and materials they need. Europe’s ports take this public responsibility very seriously. We hope the Member States are following the recommendations of the Commission to ensure that goods keep moving in Europe, in the interest of every single EU citizen.’
On 11 March, the World Health Organization (WHO1) declared the COVID-19 a pandemic and governments worldwide have taken wide-ranging measures to contain the spread of the virus.
The transport sector has a crucial role to play in the supply of goods, in particular medicines, medical devices, food and other essential commodities needed to overcome this crisis. The transport sector also proves to be a vital instrument in these times where many European citizens are restricted in their mobility.
A statement of endorsement
The undersigned European associations representing transport, infrastructure managers, operators, workers in all transport modes and logistics, contractors, local and regional authorities, logistics service providers, shippers, users and equipment suppliers in the maritime, port, inland waterways, railways, road, cycling, aviation and intermodal sectors, as well as supporting industries and companies, jointly endorse the following statement:
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
In the current context, marked by the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, terminals are showing a considerable drop in overall port volumes. This is associated with a decline in economic activity, and with a large number of blank sailings due to shipping lines’ attempts to align capacity with existing demand.
However, the paradox is that despite the fact that calls and volume arriving at the Port of Barcelona's BEST terminal have decreased, moves per call have significantly increased. This was reported from the port on 29 June.
During week 23 (1-7 June), BEST terminal welcomed the largest vessel to call at the Port of Barcelona, MSC Sixin, with a capacity of almost 24,000 TEU.
Subsequently, similar ships from the 2M alliance (Maersk + MSC) have been arriving on a recurring basis on passage between the Far East and Europe, grouping together all the moves that a few weeks ago were made between different services of the same alliance and which were cancelled due to the exceptional situation currently experienced.
During May and June, BEST terminal saw how the number of moves per call had broken all existing records in the Port of Barcelona – starting with almost 8,000 moves in week 22, all move records broken to reach almost 8,500 moves in week 24.
This change in demand, with large cargo concentration peaks on large deep sea vessels and a smaller number of calls, directly impacts on the way terminals must approach the services they offer.
It was found that the way to put forward a valuable proposal to shipping lines with these types of calls, is to offer productivity per call that exceeds by far the average efficiency in container terminals. With this in mind, it is important to highlight the relevance of the important investments made by BEST, both in the number of cranes capable of operating these types of ship, and in the terminal operating system (TOS) at all levels.