Genoa - “In Genoa there is private use of the port, which is public, by the terminal operators. Concessions are granted at laughable prices, and areas are occupied by empty containers in a port that is short on space. All this must be overcome - we need to redress the balance between the port and the city.” And again: “The Third [Giovi] Tunnel will take years to complete, it will cost six billion euros, and will only shorten the transport time of goods by 45 minutes. The core issue on which we must take action is the twelve days that goods wait in storage in our ports, when they only wait six days in Northern European ports.”
It was on 16 February that Luigi Di Maio, in an interview with Il Secolo XIX, burst into the Genoese election campaign with a violent attack on the local port system, and in particular on the terminal operators’ “club”. Now that Di Maio has come out of the election on top, the maritime sector is wondering how willing he will be to attack the port and the fast rail link to the Po Valley, or, on the other hand, how much of that interview was just ‘sound bite’. “As far as we are concerned,” commented Alessandro Pitto, the president of the Genoese freight forwarders’ association, “we confirm our position of support for the construction of infrastructure such as the Rim Motorway and the Third Tunnel. These are projects that take longer than the term of a single legislature. The queues of lorries that we have seen in recent days because of the bad weather confirm the need for these projects. We hope that those who will be called to govern will be very responsible and open in discussing the needs of the port and the city with the economic operators - in recent years both the port and the city have been penalized by too much inaction.”
“The statements made by the Five Star Movement in the election campaign about infrastructure projects, which are already almost entirely financed and completed, and on the productivity of our ports concern us because the world of logistics is not well understood or perhaps examined in depth,” explains Alberto Banchero, the president of the maritime agents’ association, “ But what we are most alarmed about today is the political stalemate which could take a long while to resolve. We need to take action and make decisions, most of all in terms of removing red tape, because current times, in terms of the economy, the markets and business, demand a different sort of dynamism than those of politics, and the paralysis could be fatal.”
The watchword on the docks seems to be “prudence”. Because beyond official statements, the entrepreneurs’ conviction is that the warlike intentions of the Five Star Movement will hardly have any effect on traffic in a port that continues to grow faster than its competitors. According to the PortEconomics classification of the fifteen leading European container ports, Genoa had the second highest rate of growth in volume moved last year, at +14.8% TEU growth. Genoa’s overall performance over the last ten years has also been excellent (+42.2%, the fifth best result on the continent).
Mayor Marco Bucci, Governor Giovanni Toti and Port President Paolo Signorini, will speak about these figures and the Third Tunnel before the Swiss political and business community in Lugano on 14 March. With these election results, it will probably be a few days before we can speculate on the tone that their speeches might take.