Release Date: 08 May 2007
Release ID: 1274
The inability of ports in Europe, the US and elsewhere to keep pace with the relentless growth in Asian, especially China’s, shipping facilities and overseas trade is already leading to increased personal injury and handling equipment incidents, the TT Club has warned. The specialist transport insurer, which provides property and liability cover for over 2,000 port and terminal facilities worldwide, fears an ever-growing number of accidents, some fatal, that will blight Western waterfronts unless ports can adapt to unprecedented change.
Speaking as moderator at Containerisation International’s Global Liner Shipping Conference in London in April, TT Club’s chief executive Paul Neagle pointed out that, according to a recent International Herald Tribune report, China alone has 639 new deep water berths on the drawing board that will become operational by 2010. In 2006, Chinese exports grew by 27% in volume terms, eclipsing the 20% growth in imports. Logically, he said, this should lead to comparable growth in other regions to handle the additional post-panamax generation of ships that are being ordered to service soaring Chinese exports and imports.
“However, unlike in China,” observed Mr Neagle, “in Europe, the United States and Australasia there are a large number of constraints on expansion of port facilities. We have already witnessed examples of this around the world,” he said, referring to issues such as congestion, planning permission, dredging and waste disposal that have sunk or stalled proposed expansion plans across the world’s consumer economies.
TT Club is predicting that, as long as port and terminal operators are unable to find ways to overcome their capacity expansion difficulties, there will be growing pressure on terminals and their working practices as they struggle to handle, through existing facilities, volumes that are increasing by 10 per cent or more per year.
TT Club has already disclosed that in its 2006 financial year it was hit by a spike of personal injury and handling equipment claims, the great majority of which had the common theme of human error at their core. It warns that inexorably growing volumes on ever-larger ships being handled at capacity-constrained facilities will further intensify the pressure on people and practices and leave operators exposed to significantly higher risks and costs.
In the absence of capacity expansion, the Club says, operators must move risk management even further up the boardroom agenda or expect to suffer a surge in accidents and claims.
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