Q and A's coronavirus webinar and Port of Rotterdam

Many questions were put to the four speakers during the Nieuwsblad Transport webinar on Friday, 17 April. Due to the limited time, not all questions could be answered during the webinar. In the meantime we have answered any remaining unanswered questions personally. We have also classified questions into groups and formulated answers to them.

If you have any other questions regarding the webinar, please do not hesitate to contact us by email: redactie@portofrotterdam.com.

Is the port going to set up a drive-in test centre for Corona?

There are currently no plans to set up testing facilities in the port area.

Seafarers that are possibly infected with Corona should be tested in their next port of call. Are requests for testing submitted via the HCC?

'There is a shortage of tests in the Netherlands, which means that it is nationally determined that at first instance only patients who end up in the hospital are eligible to be tested. This also applies to care workers that have been in contact with COVID-19 patients.

The GGD may decide to conduct a test in special cases, for example if a captain of a vessel has symptoms and is planning to go on a long voyage. Together we are endeavouring to keep the spread of COVID-19 in the port to a minimum. By isolating people with complaints, no matter how minor, on board, you make a major contribution to limiting the spread of the disease on board. In addition, all sea-going vessels that visit Rotterdam are required to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health (MDoH). If there appears to be a (possible) infectious disease, such as COVID-19, the HCC will contact the GGD, which will then advise on how to deal with the situation that has arisen. During the stay in Rotterdam, any changes in the health situation during shifting/departure must be reported to the HCC. Where necessary, the GGD is asked for advice. The aim is to allow vital work in the port to proceed as much as possible (but safely).'

Cyber attacks are increasingly taking place (also recently at MSC). Will the participants continue to invest in FERM?

Criminals and other malicious parties are taking advantage of the current situation and uncertainties. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warns of a worldwide increase in corona-related phishing emails and, among other things, attacks on the work-from-home infrastructure. Cyber security is and remains a top priority. FERM is therefore still active in providing information to companies in the port. For example, FERM will continue to distribute information via the newsletter and website and the Port Cyber Cafés will be organised digitally for the time being. In addition, FERM is currently working a pilot together with ten companies from the port, in which we jointly invest in cybersecurity services. A follow-up on this is expected in the second half of this year.

To what extent does the corona crisis have an effect on investments in the transitions (energy, digital, etc) in the short/medium-long term? Follow-up: How will collaboration on this take place within Rotterdam?

The corona crisis has no impact on the projects and plans that we develop in the context of the energy transition, such as Porthos (CCUS), development of heat networks or hydrogen projects. We undertake these projects to help achieve the Dutch and European climate objectives, but also for the earning potential of the port and industrial complex in the future. So there is every reason to continue with these projects right now. As you can imagine, in a long, deep crisis, less financial resources are available, especially when it comes to government contributions to finance the unprofitable top. On the other hand, as a government you have to invest in these kinds of projects during a recession to stimulate the economy and prepare for the future. The Port Authority has also done the same with the construction of Maasvlakte 2, which started at the end of 2009. To date, the only known concrete consequence of the corona crisis is that the CO2 tax for industry has been postponed because the government considers it undesirable at present.

Is the crisis seeking greater cooperation between the Municipality of Rotterdam and the PoR?

PoR works continuously with the Municipality of Rotterdam, which is not only a shareholder, but also a very important partner in many projects. In the area of COVID-19, there is also cooperation with the municipality, at administrative, official and operational levels, in properly informing each other, taking measures to combat the virus and examining ways in which the post-corona economy can be revitalised.

Supply chains to and from China are currently being disrupted. Should we not put stronger control from the top sector on behalf of all stakeholders in the logistics sector?

With regard to sea-going shipping, the Chinese-Rotterdam trade has declined, but this is expected to recover now that the Chinese economy is starting up again. The other (currently still very limited) supply and/or transport by rail between China and Europe, just like sea-going shipping, depends on the economic productivity in China. We also expect to see an increase from that side in the coming months. Work is now underway on a new implementation agenda for the Top Sector logistics. The Port Authority is closely associated with this.

As a transporter, we are concerned about the continued use of the handheld scanners at terminals. This is a cause for concern among drivers. Is it not possible to impose a more restrictive method of working there?

The handheld scanner is an integral part of the business process at many terminals. These terminals have therefore chosen to leave the scanner activated. Not least because of the fact that deactivation raises other security issues. Such as performing physical checks that are now being done by the handheld scanner. Thorough cleaning of the hands before and after using the handheld scanner seems to be a practical solution.

China invests in Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Serbia. What effect will this have on the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp?

The success of the port is not only having the right combination of infrastructure, terminal capacity, draught, efficient processes in the port, but also good hinterland connections. Thanks to its excellent infrastructure, sufficient space, the lack of draught restrictions, the presence of digital tools and hinterland connections via inland shipping, road, rail and pipelines, Rotterdam is by far the largest port in Europe. Our commitment is to remain the largest European port. But perhaps even more important, we also want to be the smartest port in the world. That is why we remain fully committed to investments in physical port infrastructure and in digitisation. No port has such a complete digital toolbox as Rotterdam.

There is a lot of material at a standstill and transporters find it difficult to find suitable space. How can the Port Authority help with this?

There are many companies that offer space for storage of material and containers. Uniport, UWT, Broekman, the empty depots are a few parties that can be approached.

Do we not want to monitor container flows in the chain more precisely?

That’s why Cargo Tracker was developed by PoR and Portbase. This provides more transparency of the container status.

Have the closed borders within the Schengen zone caused any problems?

At the moment there are no problems at the borders. This is mainly due to the timely and clear information on the temporary freight rules that apply in Europe.

Is the current situation not ideal for increasing the share of modal shift?

Inland shipping, rail and road are and will remain necessary to serve clients in the hinterland. The excellent network of inland terminals in the Netherlands offers opportunities for more transport by inland shipping. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Top Sector Logistics and Logistics Alliance are working together on a 2020-2025 strategy for utilising modal shift opportunities.

Digital working and the implementation of the 1.5-metre economy will require a completely different working method and organisation. Do we see opportunities for the hinterland where more physical and cheap space is available?

It is important that companies in the port and hinterland have space in the right location for storage, throughput and distribution of freight. In addition to space, it is mainly about sharing information and cooperation and sharing information between the parties in the logistics chain is becoming even more important.

Is it now time to invest in more LNG bunkering stations for inland shipping along the Rhine?

Do not specifically invest in more LNG bunkering stations only. The aim is for the market and governments to jointly develop a network of clean energy hubs for climate-neutral transport routes, so that in future cargo and passenger vessels can exchange battery containers and refuel hydrogen, LNG or bio LNG in ports.

Are any cases of corona known in inland shipping?

Yes, a case of corona is known. However, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is not informed in all cases. In most cases there is no testing and it is limited to suspected symptoms. In any case, the crew is advised not to have contact with others.

The larger call sizes of the ULCC are causing peak moments. Bundling is still important to support multimodal particularly now. Now that there are no more traffic jams, a reverse model shift is going to take place. How do we prevent that?

The Port of Rotterdam Authority will continue to cooperate with the parties in the container chain to make inland shipping even more efficient and attractive for companies. Continuing to work on better planning and bundling cargo in combination with reliable agreements between parties are important to transport even more containers by inland shipping and to prevent a reverse modal shift.

Shops receive a discount on the rent, banks suspend interest and repayment obligations for their clients. What is the Port Authority doing for its clients?

Corona affects almost all businesses. Not only in the Port of Rotterdam. That is why not only the Dutch government, but also the Municipality of Rotterdam and financial institutions have come up with an extremely broad support package. Basically, it is not up to PoR to provide financial support to all its clients, simply because we cannot bear the expense ourselves. The PoR also has obligations towards employees and suppliers that we want to fulfil. We have, however, extended the payment term on the sea port dues from 15 to 30 days in order to give shipping companies and agents more flexibility to preserve their liquidity. The challenge as we understand it from our clients mainly lies in the area of liquidity. Implementing a discount is not the most effective measure for this. If and to the extent that PoR takes support measures, we provide support where this has the most impact. Hence our choice to extend the payment term instead of providing a discount.

The current corona developments have a direct impact on the projects/investments with regard to the energy transition in the Port of Rotterdam.

The corona crisis has no impact on the projects and plans that we develop in the context of the energy transition, such as Porthos (CCUS), development of heat networks or hydrogen projects. We undertake these projects to help achieve the Dutch and European climate objectives, but also for the earning potential of the port and industrial complex in the future. So there is every reason to continue with these projects right now. As you can imagine, in a long, deep crisis, less financial resources are available, especially when it comes to government contributions to finance the unprofitable top. On the other hand, as a government you have to invest in these kinds of projects during a recession to stimulate the economy and prepare for the future. The Port Authority has also done the same with the construction of Maasvlakte 2, which started at the end of 2009. To date, the only known concrete consequence of the corona crisis is that the CO2 tax for industry has been postponed because the government considers it undesirable at present.

Update corona virus

Despite the far-reaching social impact of the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), the port of Rotterdam will remain operational. Cargo handling and production will continue unabated. The Harbour Master Division is monitoring safety and public order on the water 24/7. The Port of Rotterdam Authority is carefully complying with the recommendations of national authorities in the field of health and safety, and we have taken steps to safeguard the continuity of business operations.

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