Naples - The Conateco Terminal in Naples is experiencing a period of growth. After ending 2018 with 560,000 TEUs handled, it is growing at a rate of 14%. And it is preparing to equip itself for further growth, as CEO Pasquale Legora De Feo says.
“We have signed a contract with ZPMC,” Legora De Feo explained, “to replace one of our six ship-to-shore dock cranes. We currently have three operational cranes, two that are being revamped and one that will be replaced in twelve months when the new crane arrives.”
What is the maximum capacity of these cranes?
“With the dredging of the port and its channels to a depth of 14.2m, we can receive ships of up to 14,000 TEUs. This is why we are engaged in looking for spaces to store freight, which we expect to come in greater and greater volumes. The terminal traffic is growing for the fourth consecutive year. We have two off-dock spaces rented, and we are in negotiations to acquire other locations outside of the port. To be precise, we want to acquire a total of 80,000sqm. In the meantime, we have begun hiring again at our Conateco (containers) and Soteco (RO-RO) Terminals.”
In addition to the off-dock storage, the development of the freight villages at Nola and Marcianise is very important to the port of Naples. What sort of links are there between these freight villages and the port?
“There is no relationship. The links problem has not yet been resolved, we need leadership with coordination from the Region and the Port System Authority.”
Regarding the Authority, are the judicial investigations putting the breaks on the President Pietro Spirito. How is this situation affecting you as port operators?
“The situation in which the Port System Authority finds itself is causing enormous damage, with plans slowing down. The priority is the plan for the Darsena di Levante (editor’s note: which is also under scrutiny from ANAC due to suspicion that costs have been inflated). We have a 50-year concession on that area and are planning investments of €220 million. We think it’s going to take at least two or three years to get this area. La Darsena di Levante will have a natural draught of 17m, which means that we will be able to receive ships up to 20,000 TEUs. That’s why it’s important for us to acquire off-dock storage where we can store large quantities of goods.”
What is your judgement of the effects of port governance reform?
“We are absolutely at a standstill. Our hope as operators is that the new minister will do something about it. Our experience with Minister Toninelli has been negative in this respect. But this is not the only issue of concern to us. We are in the middle of negotiations for the renewal of the port workers’ contract. This is a situation that leaves us in a state of suspension.”
When did the contract expire?
“Last year. We’re still far away,” said the terminal operator, who is vice-president of Assiterminal and president of the ports section of Confindustria in Campania, “from our union counterparts as regards the platform that will soon be approved. They are calling for the establishment of a pension fund. We want to understand first of all what the cost will be, since until now it has been a public responsibility, and now it’s supposed to be funded by companies. We want to talk about it and we have asked for the creation of a committee in which both sides are represented so that we can understand how it will work. Outside of the fund, our positions are closer, for example on the issue of the economic adjustment of the contract.”
Let’s close on a positive note: in recent years, the railroads have started to concentrate on freight traffic again.
“No, unfortunately they have stopped again. The railways are necessary for developing the country’s logistical potential. If we aren’t able to connect markets, we won’t grow.”