Can Zadar harbour become a serious competition to Rijeka?
Even if the serious intentions of Chinese investors who are interested in building a container terminal in Zadar in the area between the old commercial port and Gaženica are realized, it is unrealistic to expect a dramatic redistribution of container cargo on the Adriatic. Partly due to the fact that the Chinese investments in Zadar port are still questionable as there is strong opposition from some of the owners, including Slovenian company Dilucolo, and partly because the terminal will be of significantly less capacity than the one in Rijeka, and it cannot be built, equipped and linked by railway with the hinterland within a short period of time, reports Novi list, on September 9, 2017.
However, it is still a somewhat devastating fact for Rijeka port and its ambitions that the Chinese capital, despite the repeated interest in investing in Rijeka, eventually chose to invest in Zadar, where it found a location to construct a container terminal.
Future passenger terminal at Gaženica, Zadar (Photo: Port Authority Zadar)
Maja Markovčić Kostelac, State Secretary for the Sea in the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, emphasizes that in the recently adopted Transport Strategy of Croatia for the period 2017-2030, the specific development of certain ports in the Adriatic has not been sufficiently concrete and therefore in the context of the specialization of the Zadar port it is stated that the port will primarily deal with RORO, passenger and cruise ships and traffic.
However, further activities and long-term development of the port will be more precisely defined in the description of the Transport Strategy measures.
“It is true that when it comes to the ports in the southern part of the Adriatic, we mainly talk about the development of passenger traffic. However, the Ministry certainly will not prevent the development of freight traffic if there is an interest in the market. Specifically, as far as the Zadar port is concerned, there are indeed spatial possibilities and plans for freight traffic, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the development of the railway infrastructure and connection to the interior of the country. For the Zadar Container Terminal Project, Port Authority Zadar has initiated the process of obtaining a building permit, but we have had talks with the recently appointed representatives of PA Zadar and suggested that the project be adapted for the construction of a multipurpose terminal that can also be used for container traffic purposes. In any case, there will be no competition and rivalry between Zadar and Rijeka port regarding container traffic, since we are dealing with two completely different markets, and we do not see any incompatibility between these two ports,” said Markovčić Kostelac.
Cargo terminal at Brajdica, Rijeka (Photo: Port Authority Rijeka)
Rijeka at a disadvantage
Žargo Acinger, Sales Director at the Jadranska Vrata Company, which currently manages the only container terminal of the Rijeka port at Brajdica, shares a similar opinion. He also believes that it is certainly unrealistic to expect that Zadar port will be a direct competition with Rijeka when it comes to the container traffic in the short term.
“There are several infrastructural problems regarding the development of container transport in Zadar. Also, there are limited maritime capabilities, and it is necessary to link Zadar port with the hinterland via railway, which is also a huge investment. Of course, if the investor is serious, it is possible to build a container terminal, which would, if he wanted to ensure competitiveness, had to have a depth of about 15 meters, provide mooring of two ships at the same time and have a respectable capacity and modern equipment. If funds are provided, technically everything can be done, but it is a long process. Al, o a very important question is what type of goods will be transported, both cars and bulk cargo are one of the possible options. Containers, too, but the biggest problem is finding the cargo. At this stage, Zadar is no competition to Rijeka, however, if the construction of such terminal begins, we will seriously reconsider [the statement], as we can see the potential of the port of Zadar,” said Acinger.
To conclude, Rijeka does not need to worry about losing part of its cargo traffic to Zadar for the time being. However, the undeniable fact that Rijeka hasn’t attracted the Chinese capital remains, particulary since during past several decades large number of Chinese delegates have stayed in Rijeka expressing interest in the development of Rijeka port. So far, the Chinese have not expressed any interest in possible concession on the Zagrebačka obala in Rijeka, and it yet remains to be seen whether they will respond to the new concession tender, which is expected to be announced next year.
Translated from Novi List