Over the last four decades, the seaport industry has faced dynamic changes in its services and operations, prompted by the fluctuations and developments of international maritime trade flows. Technology development and competition brought about containerisation, automation, and digitalisation. As a result, competitive seaports have primarily ceased to rely on labour and shifted to capital injection. Indeed, the introduction of these changes accelerated time-sensitive processes, such as cargo handling, and ultimately enhanced ports’ efficiency, therefore, consolidating the need for capital intensive development.
The transitions that the maritime industry was undertaking paved the way for the question on how to manage seaports best. The main issue was how government-owned seaports managed on tight State budgets while sustaining the level of capital required to maintain a competitive edge. This line of thought catalysed a marked shift in the industry, that being the introduction of private firms, which ultimately created different models of ownerships that currently distinguish seaports. As a consequence, questions arose whether the simultaneous presence of divergent port management models could improve or deteriorate security at seaports.
Seaports are large hubs with services extending beyond maritime transport exclusively. The presence of factories, warehouses, and land transport connection lines at seaports make them hubs for multimodal transportation and commercial activities. This means that many different activities happen in parallel. The development of the port infrastructure, such as berths and dock, and superstructure, which includes the cranes and terminals, requires a hefty investment and high billing maintenance. The model of ownership and organisation determines the management of these mobile and immobile assets.
This publication delves into the dynamic relationship of the public and private sector and explores different manifestations of this relationship using the best-case practice of seaports in Asia and Europe as reference. Further, this publication examines how the dynamism of public and private partnerships elevate or undermine the quality of security at these transport structures.