Port of Genoa Attracts New Container Business Under Innovative Leadership

—Free Brochures Offered— In 1984, the Port of Genoa was in need of a major restructuring. Under the burden of labor problems and obsolete systems, procedures and equipment, the port suffered critical financial losses.

Today, under the adept and innovative guidance of Roberto D'Alessandro, the president of the Port of Genoa, the port is a thriving European center for container and RO/RO traffic, ship repair, passenger travel and crude oil product handling.

"The situation I was confronted with on that first day could briefly be summarized as a continuous decrease of traffic plagued by outrageous costs, exorbitant tariffs, chronic inefficiency and nonexistent competitiveness," said Mr. D'Alessandro.

"In bare figures, the port had accrued losses for $420 million." Faced with the issues of lack of employee motivation, bureaucracy, high labor costs, inefficiency, financial losses, lack of funding and investment, obsolete equipment and facilities and customer dissatisfaction, Mr. D'Alessandro enacted a number of structural and organizational solutions.

Labor costs, for example, which once had exceeded revenues by more than 15 percent, declined to 50 percent of total sales through labor agreements.

Through changes in the organizational structure of the port, a new, more effective decision-making mechanism was created.

In addition, capital investment was obtained from domestic banks as well as international financial institutions such as Citibank, Irving Trust Co., Manufacturers Hanover Trust and the Bank of Boston.

According to Mr. D'Alessandro, the port's "winning formula" for raising its productivity was the combination of the new decision-making process, a series of capital investments and a significant reduction in labor costs.

Results of the "winning formula" show that port traffic has grown 35 percent since 1985.

Some of the plans under way at the port include: • The realization of a system of terminals dedicated to container and RO/RO traffic that will enable Genoa to handle a total capacity of 1 million TEUs annually by the 1990s (up from only 200,000 TEUs in 1983). The plan calls for $50 million improvements to the present terminal (upgraded to handle 400,000 TEUs per year); the construction of a new terminal for Calata Sanita, which will handle 200,000 TEUs per year; the new Voltri port, which will also handle 400,000 TEUs; and an increase in the portainer number from four to 14; • The $100-million improvement of non-containerized traffic areas; • The construction of a large passenger terminal; • The building of an international airport surrounded by hotel complexes and commercial outlets; • The restructuring of the old port, with the construction of a marina and the rehabilitation, within the port area, of historic city centers, following the example of the large revitalization in American ports such as Baltimore, New York and San Francisco; • And the creation of a technologically advanced telecommunications network for service to the port and the commercial city. This is said to be the first Teleport in the Mediterranean.

Genoa is not alone, however, in improving its container handling technology and port facilities. Dozens of ports in and around the Mediterranean and the world are investing millions of dollars in order to capture increasingly important trade routes to the Far East from both Europe and the U.S. West Coast.

The Port of Genoa, however, has greatly improved its chances through its investments, since it already offers a prime location in the region.

According to Mr. D'Alessandro, the port broke even last year, and expects to earn a profit of about $20 million in 1988.

"I firmly believe that we are the masters of our destiny," said Mr.

D'Alessandro. "If we are bold enough to accept technological innovation, to create competitive conditions in a political and social environment which is not always favorable to changes, then I think we may claim that our ports are ready to meet the challenge of the 21st Century.

And this is exactly what I've been trying to do," he concluded.

For free color literature and brochures detailing the ship repair, oil terminal, multipurpose terminal and container terminal facilities of the Port of Genoa, Circle 21 on Reader Service Card

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 60,  Apr 1988

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