Emerging Paradigm in the Role of Port Authorities within their Port Regions

Emerging Paradigm in the Role of Port Authorities within their Port Regions

Source: adapted from A. Monfort (2010) “Port evolution: must or need? Can port authorities do it in an isolated way?”, Terminal Operators Conference Europe, Valencia, Spain, June; and P. Verhoeven (2010) ‘A review of port authority functions: towards a renaissance?’, Maritime Policy & Management, Vol. 37, No. 3, pp.247–270.

Conventionally, a port authority acts as a landlord, a regulator and an operator:

  • As a landlord, a port authority manages the port assets under its jurisdiction. This commonly concerns the provision of infrastructures such as piers and the dredging of waterways. This was commonly done with public funds.
  • As a regulator, a port authority sets the planning framework, namely fees, subcontracting services, and safety, as well as the enforcement of national and port related rules and regulations.
  • As an operator, a port authority provides day-to-day services to ships (e.g. pilotage and towage) and merchandises (e.g. loading / unloading and warehousing).

With deregulation, the trend is a changing role of port authorities within their region, which has mainly taken two dimensions:

  • Concessionning has reduced the role of the port authority as an operator since this role is increasingly assumed by specialized terminal operators that are renting terminal facilities over long periods of time (up to 30 years). The dominant rationale behind this process was that port authorities tended to have poor performance levels in their terminal operations. Many are global terminal operators having terminal assets in a wide variety of markets.
  • Cluster governance is an emerging and extensive trend where the port authority assumes leadership in activities that conventionally were outside its jurisdiction. These include the setting of inland terminals and logistics zones (directly or in partnership), various strategies to monitor and improve performance, setting port community systems, promoting environmental and social initiatives, being involved in training and education for port-related employment as well as facilitating relations with its surrounding urban areas.

This requires the setting of marketing strategies where the port authority engages with a variety of stakeholders.