In the midst of so much bad news, in a scenario in which the Covid devastates practically everything, there is a giant that insists, despite the historical (train) and current (pandemic) obstacles, to show its strength.
The port of Algeciras, the first in the national system and the fourth in Europe, has survived the complex financial year 2020 with figures that make it even more incomprehensible that it does not have the rail infrastructure commensurate with its enormous potential. Not even the coronavirus has prevented, for the fifth consecutive year, the port facilities in southern Spain from exceeding, once again, the 100 million tons of general merchandise moved in its facilities. In total 107.3, which represents a very slight decrease compared to 2019 (-1.9%). In addition, the number of containers, one of the main drivers of the Algecirean network, that passed through its two terminals It was 5.1 million (0.4%), practically the same as 12 months ago, when the virus was not even among us.
A balance that has also had the enormous burden of not adding, in passenger traffic, the Operation Crossing the Strait (OPE) that was canceled due to the closure of Moroccan borders and that has left 1.5 million, the number of people who have used the shipping companies that operate in the area. Far from the usual six million.
Figures and data that confirm the relevant role that the port has in the Andalusian and national economy. Not surprisingly, these numbers indicate that 21% of the traffic absorbed by the Spanish port system has the Mediterranean giant as a point of reference.
And it is that not even in the worst moment of confinement stevedoring activity stopped working. In fact, last Friday, again 100 hands (work shifts of port workers for loading and unloading of containers) were counted in the terminals that operate in the Strait.
Looking ahead to 2021, the forecasts are complex due to the pandemic. But the president of the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras (APBA), Gerardo Landaluce, he trusts, “not only in continuing to exceed 100 million tons of goods moved, in recovering passenger traffic and, above all, announcing very important investments and projects”. All this without forgetting the eternal demand for the modernization of the railway connection with Madrid, which continues to be the great burden for the development of all the economic, business, labor and social potential of the port.
Investment and mega ships
The business plan includes, up to 205, an investment of 258 million euros, of which 61.5 correspond to the current year. In addition, the private sector will also contribute its grain of sand. Not surprisingly, TTIA, the company that operates the first semi-automatic container terminal, will improve its facilities with an investment of 13 million euros. This is due, to a large extent, to the entry into the shareholding of the French multinational CMA-CGM, the third largest shipping company in the world. “This is very important since now they will not only be customers but also an investor in our facilities,” says Landaluce.
Not surprisingly, the development of phase B of the Isla Verde Exterior Pier it is key to continue betting on mega-ships that are capable of transporting 24,000 TEU (containers). In this sense, the investment of the French company, together with Hyundai Merchant Marine, will allow the terminal cranes to be increased to operate with these ships, some of which have already made a stopover in Algeciras, although not at the top of their capacity. Something that they will be able to do in 2021.
And it is that in addition to investing, the APBA seeks to be a magnet for attracting investments like that of the French group, which was a highly pursued objective since it supposes, in the words of the president, that “the 3 major alliances that encompass The 10 leading shipping companies in the world have both a client and an investment position in our port, a circumstance that strengthens the Spanish port system “. In these 10 years TTI Algeciras has moved 10 million TEUs and has generated 900,000 working days.
Despite all this potential, the economic contribution to the country and the indirect movement generated by the port network, investment in the railroad continues to fail from the government of Spain, despite warnings from Europe. All this, in addition, with the addition of competence, although it is also a complement, of puerto Tangier-Med which, in 2020, has exceeded the number of containers moved to both Algeciras and Valencia.
The business scope of Gibraltar Field he still does not understand how, a century later, the train is still waiting. The Covid can not with the port, political mismanagement may, if urgent measures are not taken, if it does.
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