Almost whole fleet of a river shipping company from Sisak has been immobilized by ice on the Danube and the Sava river.
Winter conditions, accompanied by snow and low temperatures, have caused major problems in transport. While the majority of news reports discuss the situation on roads and motorways due to storms and snow drifts, weather conditions are causing even more problems for companies involved in the river shipping sector, reports Poslovni.hr on January 23, 2017.
Croatia’s oldest and largest river shipping company, Dunavski Lloyd from Sisak, says that its direct losses due to whether have reached 1.2 million kuna and are increasing, which will jeopardize their business results. As explained by Hrvoje Pavlak, director of the company, late last week they had as many as 25 ships and barges immobilized by ice on the Sava river and the Danube, with the total capacity of 21,000 tons, which is practically their entire fleet. Over the weekend, they managed to free some of the vessels on the Sava river, but that did not have a significant effect on their business, since the ships were unable to load and unload cargo given that most ports are frozen and closed, while navigation on the Danube is mostly suspended.
“Our vessels are currently located in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary on the Danube, and in Croatia on the Sava river. Due to very low water levels, which were similar to a dry summer season, our fleet had serious difficulties in carrying out its contracted jobs even in December, but now it is completely blocked”, said Pavlak. It is estimated that in the lower Danube waterways, from Budapest to the Black Sea, there are more than a hundred convoyed blocked. The largest ice clusters are currently in Romania, but also in Serbia, especially at the Đerdap Gorge.
“The only good thing is that our vessels do not carry any perishable goods, but mostly metals, raw materials, oil and similar cargo. The worst thing is that there is nothing we can do about it, and our overhead costs are high. Even lower temperatures are forecast for the next few days, so we cannot expect any major improvement in conditions before early February, when the temperatures and water levels should increase”, said Pavlak, adding that it was not unusual that rivers were blocked by ice in the winter. However, this year’s combination of low water levels and low temperatures was catastrophic for navigation on the Sava river and the Danube.
“The last great ice which lasted for days and weeks happened in the 2011/2012 winter. Before that, I personally do not remember it, but older people have told me that it did not happen in the previous 40 years”, said Pavlak.
Dunavski Lloyd was founded in 1952, based on the centuries-old tradition of river navigation in the region, and its headquarters were in Vukovar. Just two years later the company received its current name and moved to Sisak. Its best years were the 1980s, when powerful industrial sector on the banks of the Sava and the Danube meant that the company shipped more than 2 million tons of cargo each year. Nowadays, the company carries about 500,000 tons of cargo a year. The fleet currently consists of 14 motor ships and 28 auxiliary vessels and barges.