In the majority of port cities, logistics activity is increasingly structuring the territory. Marking out the future of this sector is becoming necessary. To this effect, the Urban Planning Agency of Marseille (France) remind us of a few key points. The massification of world trade flows will continue leading to the concentration of shipowners, the adaptation of ports, the extension and robotisation of warehouses, the emergence of single operators. In the era of e-commerce, the optimisation of the last mile has also become crucial. Nevertheless, land transport remains the weak link in this ecosystem with difficulties in massifying flows and proportionally a heavier CO2 impact. Pooling could be part of the answer but not all sectors believe in it. At the heart of these developments, the issue of employment appears to be an additional challenge for the territories.
Lake Kivu in western Rwanda marks the border with the neighbouring DRC. The four ports will be built with the help of the Netherlands, and spread out from the north to the south of the lake. They will promote improved mobility for passengers and goods between the various districts along the bank. Within twenty years, they should handle the majority of commercial cross-border trade and some 3 million passengers. The Government is also keen to use the ports as a platform for more ambitious plans to kick-start water-based transport on other lakes and rivers in Rwanda. The aim is to reduce the use of onshore transport infrastructures, maintenance of which represents a significant portion of the national budget. Finally, the project will help to boost competitiveness for both the food industry (beer, tea, coffee) and the cement industry, while also giving a lift to the tourist sector.
The City of Lisbon (Portugal) thinks there is scope for more passenger transport on its river, the Tagus. The waterway offers a genuine, more flexible alternative for moving people and connecting the various urban centres on either bank, whether for tourism or commuting. The mayor has announced plans to introduce river taxis between Lisbon and Almada, and the new facility to be developed on the Terreiro do Paço site will also include new green spaces.
Fierce competition between port territories has always come down to onshore mobility issues. As a result, rail and river links are strategically important, since they are the only ways to transport goods to and from the port whilst respecting the public’s environmental concerns. The future European Transport Commissioner has made the issue a central policy plank, while there is also visible investment on the ground. Kiel (Germany) is developing the capacity to support 740 metre-long trains, while Long Beach (USA) is committed to expanding its main rail infrastructures. In Canada, the ports of Quebec and Halifax are making rail links to the centre of the country and the American Midwest a key component of efforts to develop container activity. In many cases, the choice for ports is a multimodal future, or no future at all.