In our previous commentary we called attention to the concern and foresight shown by Mr. Thomas J. Donohue, the President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “One of the least discussed aspects of our transportation crisis” he stated recently, “ is the status of our ports.”
But Mr. Donohue is just one of a number of enlightened officials who are being ignored by port bigwigs who consider themselves to be among the untouchables. In all too many instances these irresponsible and unaccountable port authoritarians have gone unchallenged, but they’re sadly mistaken if they believe they can escape scrutiny.
Bill Virgin, as you are aware, took Seattle port officials to task a few weeks ago with a highly critical column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He pulled no punches when he exposed the many extra-curricular activities and the lavish spending by officials at the port. His column was a follow-up to an earlier three-day series in the same Seattle P-I, and led one to suspect that his pointed remarks were an indication that others might be keying in on the port’s faulty operations as well as its irresponsible actions.
Well, they are. Just yesterday, January 24th, Kristen Millares Bolt, also from Seattle P-I, reported that of the six major container ports on the West Coast, Seattle ranks next to last in operating efficiency. [Not finishing last is the reason for those lavish spending sprees?]
“The Port of Seattle”, Kristen writes, “manages one of the least-efficient harbors – in terms of annual containers moved per acre – of any of the West Coast’s six major container ports, according to research presented Tuesday by the port staff to the Port Commission.
“Only the Port of Oakland, whose total volume outstrips Seattle’s, ranked worse than Seattle along the West Coast, moving about 3,175 TEUs per acre. TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, is the standard of container volume.”
“Well, at least it is not dead last”, Kristen mused.
“The reasons behind Seattle’s poor efficiency compared with other West Coast ports, said Port Seaport Managing Director Charlie Sheldon, lie in how each operator … lays out its containers on the docks …
“Sheldon said the port could move 4 million TEUs a year, double its current number, if efficiencies were increased on dock.
“‘The densification of terminals is happening naturally in the industry,’ he said …”
[Mr. Sheldon’s alibi is an acknowledgment that “densification” is the root cause of the industry’s woes. Well, it so happens that “densification” is the bugaboo that our patented systems eliminate.]