Piraeus under pressure – The first is lost in the Mediterranean

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Of George Georgiou

A very difficult situation is taking place today in the port of Piraeus, a “breath” before the festive season, in the wake of the “deactivation” of the two piers at the end of October and the worsening of problems in the global supply chain.

Thus, while a month ago there were optimistic forecasts for the number of moving containers at the end of the year, now the people of the port say that this year’s performance will probably be lower than last year.

The effects of the “padlock”

The October numbers are indicative. According to Cosco data, piers II and III served a total of 364.4 thousand containers, compared to 407.2 thousand containers in October last year, a drop of 10.5%.

In the first ten months of this year, the 4 piers handled about 4 million containers, when in the same period of 2020 the corresponding number was 4.1 million containers (annual decline of 1.9%).

Monthly data are not available for Pier I of PPA, but in the first half of 2021 there was an increase of 6.2% on an annual basis.

As competent sources in Capital.gr explain, the downward trend of October is due to the closure of the two piers for about six days. “When 11,000 – 12,000 moves are made on a daily basis, even a day of inactivity creates serious problems,” they point out.

It is recalled that the workers’ union (ENEDEP) on piers II and III of the Container Station has been mobilizing since October 25, protesting the death of their colleague.

Under suffocating pressure

At the same time, logistics disruptions remain, a fact that many port analysts attribute to the “anomaly” of regular shipping lines, that is, those carried by containers.

Most containerships continue to arrive out of schedule in Piraeus, without being able to predict when the situation will escalate. In fact, it is a phenomenon with multiple dimensions.

In particular, according to competent sources, more and more shipping companies are choosing Piraeus for the reloading of containers. Many of these containers were destined for ports in Northern Europe.

However, the increased congestion recorded there and the emergence of Piraeus as a transit hub in recent years, lead the shipping companies to the decision to approach the Greek port and place the “boxes” there.

This fact in the current conditions, in which, as it was said, several containerships approach Piraeus at the same time, has led to the accumulation of many thousands of containers in the port infrastructure.

It is indicative that the average residence time of a container under transhipment reached in “normal” periods 3-4 days and now exceeds 10 days.

Thus, delays in servicing ships are particularly high and priority is now given to containerships that load more containers than they unload.

The first was lost in the Mediterranean

The numbers and the feeling of the people of Piraeus suggest that the port will lose its lead in the Mediterranean this year. After all, the biggest competitor, the Spanish Valencia, already served 4.2 million containers in the first nine months of 2021.

Last year, the three piers of Piraeus served 5.4 million containers, while in 2019 5.6 million “boxes”.

In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, the port administration is reiterating its demand for the construction of a fourth container pier.

In fact, the people of the port present the new pier as the “only solution” to deal with the current problems, as, as they say, “the available space will increase and the cargo will be served more comfortably”.

The new pier is estimated to boost Piraeus’ capacity of over 11 million containers annually. As for the construction site of such a pier, the goal was to operate in the infrastructure of the current car terminal, which would be moved east.

“This is not a new construction, but a transfer within the infrastructure. Therefore, such a move would not affect the operation of the port and the city, while it would not have environmental effects,” said sources close to Piraeus.

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Source From: Capital

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