“The port of La Spezia is growing, but action must be taken on the docks” / INTERVIEW

La Spezia - Laghezza: “There have been no investments for twenty years. We need new infrastructure”

EIGHT very positive months for the port of La Spezia. According to Alessandro Laghezza, a freight forwarder from La Spezia who leads the group of the same name, the Ligurian port has recorded “increased traffic since the beginning of the year, and the prospects for the coming months are certainly encouraging.” “In this first half of 2017,” Laghezza explained, “we recorded an increase of several percentage points in freight handled. It is certainly a positive trend after 2016 ended with some difficulties.” The port of La Spezia, according to the data published by the Port System Authority led by President Carla Roncallo, closed out the first six months of the year with 713,434 TEUs growth in traffic (+14.2%) compared to the same period in 2016. If the trend is maintained, the port could reach 1,400,000 TEUs by the end of the year, which would be an absolute record.

The freight forwarder continued, “Unfortunately, the business generated by the increase in port traffic does not help with the development of the city’s associated industries as it might; rather it shifts, owing to the decision of the Contship Group, to hubs at Melzo and Rivalta. Early this year, the Laghezza Group opened new offices in Venice and Ancona and it will soon open one in Salerno. With its headquarters at La Spezia and operational branches in Genoa, Livorno, Naples, Caserta, Savona, Piacenza, Modena, Melzo, Bologna, Malpensa and now Ancona and Venice, the Laghezza group soon expects to have more than 150 direct employees, compared to the 132 it had in 2015.
The data for the first quarter of 2017 confirms the growth trend in revenue even in a market context characterised not only by bitter competition but also by the trend among major transport groups to internalise their functions. The Laghezza Group therefore expects growth to continue in 2017 both in terms of revenue, which exceeded €30 million in 2016 with an 11% increase compared to 2015, but also in the number of customs operations and in transport carried out by lorries. The freight forwarder explained, “The increase in traffic in the port of La Spezia is also certainly helping companies like ours, which work on a daily basis on the docks of Liguria and are benefiting from this entirely positive period.”
According to Laghezza, the port of La Spezia still has much room for improvement, both in terms of a possible increase in freight moved and in terms of cruise ships. He pointed out, “If we want to see volumes increase decisively in the coming years, we must take action, especially by creating new port infrastructure. We operators have been working on the same docks for twenty years, and in the recent past, a programme of interventions aimed at improving things has never been put into practice.” He added, “the port cannot aim to handle large numbers of containers and other traffic unless we take action on the Molo Garibaldi Wharf, on the Canaletto Marina and unless we have a new system of tracks for the movement of products entering and exiting the port.” The expectations for the next year are good, given that we once again expect data showing growth compared to the current data, which already show an encouraging situation.”
Laghezza concluded, “We must not waste any more time, and for this reason it is necessary to activate the Port Strategic Plan as soon as possible, which means that we must go ahead and fill in the Canaletto Marina. The west side of the Molo Garibaldi Wharf must be enlarged, providing a larger space for operations, and then it will be necessary to build a suitable wharf and a cruise terminal to make the most of business in a sector that is showing major growth.”

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