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Med ports unite on ‘southern gateway’ alternative

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Christine Cabau Woehrel

Christine Cabau Woehrel

Ports from around the Mediterranean coast have agreed to form a specific organisation to promote the region’s role in global maritime trade and to cooperate on issues including security, the environment and supply chain innovation.     

The decision follows the inaugural Medports Forum held in Marseille on November 29-30, which was organised by Intermed Gateways – an association of Barcelona, Genoa and Marseille Fos – and the intergovernmental Union for the Mediterranean.  The event attracted more than 100 delegates, who also agreed to hold another forum in 2017.

Participants included representatives of 25 port authorities from throughout southern Europe and North Africa as well as Bulgaria, Turkey and Israel.  Together with professionals from the Euro-Mediterranean shipping and logistics sectors, they met to explore collaboration over business development and sharing best practice.

Discussions centred on the ports’ strategic position at the crossroads of international shipping routes, with particular emphasis on container trades.  It was noted that average growth in box volumes over the past two years had been faster in Mediterranean ports than in the north European range.  This underlined support for a ‘southern gateway alternative’ strategy offering new routes to Europe-wide markets via Med ports and innovative overland logistics corridors.

Marseille Fos CEO and current Intermed Gateways chair Christine Cabau Woehrel told delegates: “We want to set the conditions for an efficient Mediterranean alternative to the northern port routes…by sharing our experiences, by developing new shipping routes and supply chain models, by promoting training and by developing IT solutions to create smart ports.

“It is only by working together that we will be able to face the numerous challenges to make this region a major world shipping area on a long-term basis.  We are meeting for the first time but it is up to you to make sure it is not the last and to trigger a new dynamism between Med ports.”                       

Marseille bridge re-opens after damage repairs 

One of the two bridges providing vehicle access between the port basins and sea wall in Marseille is back in service after six months of damage repair work.

The Pont Pinede, a bascule (drawbridge) design dating from 1931, had been closed since being struck by a ship under tow in February 2015.  Merchant ships were largely unaffected because they rarely have to navigate from one end of the port to the other, while vehicles used the alternative Pont d’Arenc.  However, service vessels – tugs, supply craft and fireboats – had to detour via the wall’s seaward side.

Damage to the 95-metre long twin-span bridge required one of the bascule pivots to be totally replaced.  The reconstruction combined modern methods with 1930’s aesthetics and was built ashore before being assembled on site.  Several items of damaged operating machinery were also replaced.  The other pivot required steelwork repairs and repainting.

Most of the project was contracted to heritage specialist company Matiere, but port authority personnel were also involved, focusing mainly on electrical works.

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