How would you describe your experience at the helm of the Port System Authority of the Western Sicilian Sea? “Wonderful, due to the amount of work we’ve carried out in less than two years, and this is thanks to the untiring efforts of my team who have often put this work ahead of their own family life. The Authority of Western Sicily (AdSP) is a public entity that operates as if it were a private company. We’ve all embraced this project which we’re absolutely passionate about, and we’re moving it forward, aware of its importance, particularly in regard to youth employment prospects. This island has an acute need of jobs based on real economic growth.”
What role does the Western Sicilian Sea network want to play?
“A central role, and of fundamental importance for all north-south and south-north connections in the Mediterranean. The network plays a decisive role with regard to freight and passenger traffic, be it ro-ro, domestic cabotage or cruise ships.”
With that in mind, what projects are the Port System Authority of the Western Sicilian Sea carrying out?
“We’re opening an important new chapter for the realm of Sicilian ports, with a change of pace that shows flexibility and vitality, putting in place an important investment policy aimed at recovering traffic, with the goal of making the region become competitive across the Mediterranean. It’s been a year and a half of non-stop work, a programme of 42 projects, some underway, many already completed, lots of planning, tendering, and fundraising. It’s the first time over the past five years that a Sicilian port has qualified to receive EU funding. The dredging works at Palermo, Termini Imerese and Trapani have all made it into the priority-works list, obtaining the go-ahead as part of the EU-funded PON investment programme for Infrastructures and Networks for 2014/20, Italy’s main infrastructure planning tool. In other words, public funds can be well spent in Sicily, and EU financing can be recouped, through a process of continuous and constructive dialogue between institutions, always keeping the whole picture in focus. Following a reorganization of its road accessibility, the port of Palermo is equipping itself with new infrastructure. On the Piave wharf a ro-ro terminal will replace the silos that were dismantled, and on the Sammuzzo wharf a new hydrofoil terminal will replace the cranes, while the entire Trapezoidale wharf will soon become a fully-fledged “marina bay”. The dredging at the Crispi 3 basin will increase the draft to -12 meters. Leisure marinas will also flourish again. The first one to be unveiled will be that of Sant’Erasmo, ready next month.”
How about the situation in the other three ports: Termini Imerese, Trapani and Porto Empedocle?
“In 2018 Termini Imerese experienced an increase in traffic, promoted by the AdSP, spurred on by an increase in the GNV line services towards Civitavecchia, and by the launch of GNV scheduled services for Naples. The new funding is aimed at improving port infrastructure and relates to the completion of the port’s breakwater and pier, and to dredging work. The internationalization of the Western Sicily port network looks beyond the EU. With the new Corsica Ferries connection, the port of Trapani is now connected to the south of France, but we’re also aiming to boost connections between that city and North Africa, and to implement a number of cruises. Already this summer, Trapani will offer passengers bound for the Egadi Islands a new Fast Ferry Terminal. Maintenance work is also being carried out - road surfaces along the docks, port fencing, work on the public lighting system and signage in the port area - as well as dredging of the port and the access basin channel, and to updating the existing maritime station on the Sanità pier. Porto Empedocle is going to be equipped with a small cruise terminal, but we’re also working on dredging, on a new Port regulatory plan (the current one dates back to 1963), and on special maintenance improvements to the port and outlying facilities.”