At the start of his two-year term of office as president of the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), Captain Subramaniam Karuppiah highlighted some of the key issues and challenges that are currently faced by the major port operators.
Captain Subra, general manager of the Port Klang Port Authority, which owns and regulates Malaysia’s largest port, said: “We cannot overlook the fact that the lead time for building new port infrastructure is much more complex and costly – and therefore takes much longer – than that of building a new ship.”
Subra, who has had a career both at sea and onshore, believes that shipowners do not always realise these challenges when they are making their next ship orders. He added that infrastructure development is marked by complex planning procedures, including environmental impact assessments, extensive stakeholder dialogue, and complex government approval policies.
During IAPH’s recent annual conference several port CEOs commented that developing the infrastructure for new fuels, such as LNG, methanol and ammonia, in an economical and environmentally sustainable manner will require much closer cooperation between the shipping companies and ports. It will also require a partnership with the energy majors and future providers of bunker fuels for new vessels.
Santiago Garcia-Milà, Port of Barcelona’s deputy general manager, commented at the conference: “Some shipowners mentioned that the disruptions that we have seen lately are due to infrastructural bottlenecks, some which were present already before the pandemic. Optimising port operations through better data collaboration and ensuring 24/7 operations are certainly priorities we should work on collectively. But the scale of funding that is needed to expand physical infrastructure is in a different league to shipping, and requires complex public-private partnerships.”
IAPH is a non-profit-making global alliance of 170 ports and 140 port-related organisations covering 90 countries. The member ports handle more than 60% of global maritime trade and around 80% of world container traffic.