The Netherlands: Port of Rotterdam is in a Good Position, but Growth Does Not Happen all by Itself

“With the rapid recovery of its cargo throughput, a strong increase in its market share and the large-scale investment in Maasvlakte 2 and the existing port area, the port of Rotterdam is in a good position. But if we want the mainport to continue to play its role as engine of the national and European economies, we need to push ahead in a number of areas in the coming year. The problems do not lie in the port’s hardware, its physical infrastructure. This is largely a technical matter and can therefore be solved. The big challenge is the software, the sense of urgency and the willingness to solve problems creatively”, according to Hans Smits, Port of Rotterdam Authority CEO, at the presentation of the 2010 throughput figures.

Hans Smits compares the economic growth and flexibility of countries such as China, India and Brazil with that of Europe and observes that Europe is structurally lagging behind. “Countries with the closest bonds with the rest of the world through industry, export and trade, such as Germany and the Netherlands, are still doing best. We need to strengthen what we are good in. Where we are concerned, this means for example that we have to optimize logistic processes in the coming year in order to transport cargo more efficiently and cleanly.”

“The new Dutch cabinet is fully aware of the importance of the economy and the port of Rotterdam”, says Hans Smits. “Expectations are high and these expectations have to be fulfilled next year.” The Port of Rotterdam Authority’s wish list comprises five concrete points:

* The choice of a route for an extra tunnel under the Nieuwe Waterweg to combat the traffic bottlenecks on the ring-road around Rotterdam, including agreements on financing and management. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is keen to play a pioneering role in this project in order to ensure that the tunnel is ready in 2018.

* Changes in regulations governing storage of CO2, so as to enable a large-scale pilot project to get started. Since we will remain significantly dependent on fossil fuels in the next 50 years, large-scale capture and storage of CO2 will be necessary.

* Changes in legislation and regulations in order to speed up procedures, while at the same time maintaining the current meticulous care. This concerns zoning plan procedures and umbrella permits within the framework of the Environmental Management Act and the Nature Conservation Act.

* Timely construction of a third railway line in Germany between Emmerich and Oberhausen so as to ensure that optimum use can be made of the Betuwe Line as a transport artery.

* Rapid construction of a mega wind turbine park on the sea defences of Maasvlakte 2.

Hans Smits announced that the Port of Rotterdam Authority would present a ‘draft Port Vision 2030’ in March, looking at the long-term development of the port: “Our report will by no means be a blueprint. We will be very pleased to discuss the draft concept with all stakeholders and parties, with the ultimate aim of achieving a sound, flexible vision of the desired development of the port in its environment.”

Source: portofrotterdam, December 31, 2010

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