“The primary function of seaports is to facilitate trade. To do this effectively demands that seaports offer and maintain higher levels of efficiency at reducing cost. Seaports must be able to achieve these aims whilst also ensuring that what they do is environmentally sustainable.
“An ever-increasing share of world trade is carried in containers, but unfortunately for many of the world’s largest city ports, container terminal efficiency, low cost (i.e. the ‘real’ cost) and environmental sustainability do not go hand in hand …
“The very high cost of dredging is only one of several significant challenges that today’s naturally shallow and often-saturated city ports have to overcome. The lack of land, or at least affordable land, is another problem they face. In addition there is the added headache of transport access on the landside – and whether this has to be overcome through very substantial investments …
“Expense related to the dredging of artificial deep-water navigation channels, together with the usually high cost of land in cities, plus rail and road access investments, must be added together, not forgetting the associated external costs resulting from all these activities, for the environment and for society …
“The reason large container ship activity is directed towards city ports is primarily (locally) politically motivated and this is unfortunate – unfortunate for the environment, for the taxpayer and for business … It should be recognized that the life cycle of shallow and congested/saturated traditional city ports has been artificially extended, and this process is being allowed to continue, more often than not with the aid of local/state taxpayers money, and in some instances federal resources as well (e.g. dredging). This is hardly a sustainable process, either environmentally or financially. It is a locally politically motivated process – a process that will need to be put right, and hopefully sooner rather than later.”
– Dr. Alfred J. Baird, Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland (June 2003)
So far, Dr. Baird’s scholarly advice has been completely ignored by those concerned only with the “corporate fanning of feathers”. On a more practical level, the advice we’ve been offering for more than fifteen years has also been ignored. Our patented container handling systems long ago would have;
– reduced the amount of waterfront acreage commandeered by greedy port officials;
– reduced the cost to taxpayers for the acquisition of this excess acreage;
– reduced – and even eliminated –the pollution spewed by long lines of waiting trucks;
– eliminated the overall inefficiencies and high cost of primitive container handling systems;
– reduced – and even eliminated – expenses related to dredging;
– … and would have done away with the “added headache of transport access on the landside”.
The “process will need to be put right, and hopefully sooner rather than later,” Dr. Baird said, but officials are still ignoring him – even though they’re struggling to keep their heads above water.