The Port of Gdansk is ready to handle inland navigation
- an account of the 2016 Waterways International Exhibition and Conference
Inland navigation, water economy, market potential, the state of port infrastructure adapted to handle inland navigation, and chances of increasing the competitiveness of the Polish economy through the integration of international waterways into international transport corridors were just several of the topics discussed last week in Warsaw during the Waterways International Exhibition and Conference.
Just like 2 years ago, the event attracted a number of representatives of government and regional authorities, as well as companies for which inland navigation is a mode of transport with a high potential for growth, providing prospects for increasing the competitiveness of the Polish economy.
It is no different for the Port of Gdansk - a partner of the Waterways conference, for which inland navigation and activation of the Wisla River for water transport is an important issue. Today, goods transported into and out of the port mean several thousand of lorries and freight train cars a year encountering modernised infrastructure - which, however, has its limitations. Taking into consideration the predicted further intensive growth in the annual volume of goods passing through the port's quays, predicted in the port's strategy, which may reach a level of up to 100 million tonnes by 2030, the need to activate inland transport may become inevitable within the next dozen or so years.
Such changes in the structure of participation of individual modes of transport in the handling of goods are also mentioned in the White Paper, which states that by 2030, 30% of road transport of goods at distances longer than 300 km should be transferred to different means of transport, e.g. rail or water transport, and that by 2050, this level should increase to 50% of that type of transport.
As Ryszard Mazur, Head of the Strategy and Development Department of the Port of Gdansk Authority SA emphasised on the second day of the conference during a discussion panel dedicated to ports and the potential of inland navigation, among others, the Port of Gdansk is now truly ready to handle goods transported via inland navigation. It has the appropriate quay infrastructure, and considering its location right at the mouth of the largest Polish river, deliberately avoiding the use of such a convenient location would be unreasonable. The current share of inland navigation in Gdansk is minimal, and this shows that the potential for development for this mode of transport is huge.
Inland navigation also presents a chance to activate the role of Poland as a transit country for cargo travelling to/from its neighbouring countries, including Belarus, Ukraine or our southern neighbours, which constitutes a part of the proposals included in the Port of Gdansk's development strategy.
The three-day conference and its accompanying exhibition attracted a considerable group of entrepreneurs to the port's stand, including both domestic and foreign visitors interested in the opportunities of handling cargo in Gdansk as part of inland navigation, which also serves as proof of the sector's strong interest in this mode of transport. The Port of Gdansk's stand was also visited by eminent guests, such as Marek Grobarczyk, the event's Honorary Patron, Minister of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, Jerzy Materna, Secretary of State in the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation and Dorota Arciszewska-Mielewczyk, Chairperson of the Sejm's Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation Committee.
Moreover, the Waterways conference showed that the activation of Polish rivers is not just a transport-related issue - it also concerns the issues of the country's flood safety, the possibilities for development of our native manufacturing technologies for the reconstruction and modernisation of the inland fleet, and the activation of inland water tourism.
The three-day debates as part of the 2016 Waterways event were concluded on Saturday, 18 June. Another edition is coming next year, and the Port of Gdansk will certainly be there, too.