Genoa - Small is still beautiful, at least in terminals: “Provided that one is thinking like a major player.” Agostino Gallozzi is the container man in Salerno, with his SCT terminal which moves 375,000 TEU and is a member of a breed that analysts say will soon be extinct: Gallozzi explained, “I don’t agree, there is still room in the market for family-owned terminals: of course it isn’t easy.” The group from Campania is doing well in the market: volumes have increased by 8% and the numbers are also looking good. “We provide flexibility that others cannot offer. But investments are needed, and not only for cranes. We chose to spend 4 million and to use the same operational system as the port of Rotterdam: for us today this is a business card we will use to win international clients.”
But in Genoa, family-run terminals are in danger of disappearing or in any case of being transformed. The investment funds are taking over stakes from families that have been managing the docks for many years: Spinelli was the first, and now it’s Negri’s turn: “It’s not a necessity for us at the moment. And in any case having an investment fund in the company as a partner is proof of maturity: in fact, it is more difficult than simply taking money from a bank.” Despite the container crisis and with the knowledge that he was working at a peripheral port, Gallozzi is convinced that he can play a role: He explained, “we will bring in three new lines, and the service to Australia has been shifted [here] from Genoa. We are competitive and our goal is to close out the year at 400,000 TEU.”
If Gallozzi has clear ideas, it is no thanks to the port reform: “As a matter of fact, the decree that we have been expecting for years is worse than the old law [Editor’s note: Law 84/94]. I have been saying it for a year: this reform is a stupid mistake! It isn’t true that it will speed up the procedures for nominating port authority presidents. The mechanism was already in place under the old law. And there was also a centralised plan for improvements: nothing new, because Law 84/94 gave the Ministry full planning powers to avoid unnecessary infrastructure.” And finally the “third stupid mistake: the integration plans. The law already allowed the old port authorities to promote the construction of links between ports and cargo storage areas, creating logistical systems. So what is new then? Only the mergers between several ports.
But it is not working. It is a sham spending review: I would have liked to see it done properly, now we will have only six port authorities in Italy, not fifteen. The real problems of the ports remain unresolved and simplification is still a mirage.” Gallozzi is suffering the merger of Salerno and Naples: “Around here things are working and we are close to the centres of production. This is why we are worried.” His parting shot on the Delrio reform: “Think about the non-governmental actors: they are no longer on the committee because of presumed conflicts of interest. But at those meetings things used to be done in a more transparent way. Now it’s only politicians on the board and those who make investments on the docks no longer count.”