The Competition Authority has called for a major overhaul of lease management at Dublin Port as part of recommendations aimed at improving competitiveness in the Irish ports sector.
In a study of current competition levels within the sector commissioned by Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton, the authority yesterday said port services in general “could be improved”.
With particular reference to practices at Dublin Port, the report recommends a substantial reduction in the duration of terminal operator leases. Load-on/load-off services in the capital are currently handled by three companies — Irish Continental Group’s Dublin Ferryport Terminals subsidiary; the British-owned Marine Terminals Ltd; and Burke Shipping Group, which is part of Cobh-based Doyle Shipping.
In terms of stevedore — or manual cargo-handling — services, the authority has called for “at least” two new licences to be issued at Dublin Port, where Dublin Stevedores and Burke Shipping currently share the business. It added that general stevedore licences at Irish ports should not be automatically renewable.
“These recommendations will help to improve competition in the ports sector which plays a hugely important role in contributing to Ireland’s competitiveness and economic growth,” said Competition Authority’s chairwoman Isolde Goggin. “They will help to improve economic and consumer welfare as Ireland continues its path to economic recovery.”
As well as calling for more careful consideration regarding port infrastructure investment, the authority wants its views to be sought by the Department of Transport and Tourism in future when port mergers are being proposed.
Mr Bruton said the Government will study its recommendations in detail and “take appropriate action”.
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