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CEO of the Port of Amsterdam: We can solve main challenges of European ports together

Current challenges faced by the European ports are related not only to rapid changes in the global cargo flows, but also to increasing introduction of smart port solutions, as well as environmental considerations. Last week, the Port of Riga was visited by Gert Jan Nieuwenhuizen, the CEO of the Port of Amsterdam, to meet Ansis Zeltiņš, the CEO of the Port of Riga. Some of the topics discussed by both parties include digitization of ports, smaller environmental impact and cooperation with residents of neighboring districts. As these issues are important both for the large Western European ports, as well as the Baltic ports, Amsterdam’s experience could be of use to plan development at the Port of Riga.

As to cargo turnover, Amsterdam is the fourth largest port in Europe and is considered to be one of the most digitally advanced. “We have incorporated all services provided by the Port of Amsterdam in one management system. This system ensures that such services as tugging, mooring and many others are efficiently provided. As everything happens in the same place, the complicated information transfer system is not any more needed,” explains Gert Jan Nieuwenhuizen, the CEO of the Port of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam can boast outstanding performance as a smart port. For example, parking of trucks in the facilities of the port is coordinated digitally. The same applies to planning barge movement through locks, or booking a berth or a mooring place. As a result, all customers can plan their operations better and protect their fleet from water traffic jams that tend to develop in such busy ports as Amsterdam. Customers can also pay for port services via a mobile app. Even Amsterdam’s taxi drivers can log into the port’s information system to find out at which birth cruise ships will arrive. The port has also launched a programme for developing floating drones. Comprehensive digitization also offers new opportunities that allow to solve environmental problems that are related to port operations.

“We are one of the environmental leaders and do everything possible to reduce the environmental impact of the port. In this regard, we face the same challenges as the Port of Riga. Our ports are located in an urban environment, where you always have to try to find the right balance between business and people. In this respect, we have to cooperate and jointly find solutions,” claims the CEO of the Port of Amsterdam.

Amsterdam has already implemented a range of projects to reduce pollution and noise from port’s operations. Use of more environmentally friendly fuels like natural gas and hydrogen is encourage both in road and maritime transport. At the end of November, the Port of Amsterdam received the first barges fully powered by electricity. The representative of the Port of Amsterdam continued about introduction of environmentally friendly solutions, “Many years ago we introduced a tariff policy to facilitate more environmentally friendly transport. We prefer to support, not punish. Operators that power their fleet with electricity, hydrogen or natural gas, can enjoy lower port tariffs.”

The CEO of the Port of Amsterdam also believes that the decision to discontinue handling the coal by 2030 made two years ago is another important step towards better environment. “It was quite an unusual Board decision, which made a lot of noise,” remembers the CEO. As to the volume of handled coal, the Port of Amsterdam is the second largest port in Europe. Its share of the total cargo turnover amounts to one third. However, the management of the port is convinced that 10 years would be enough to replace the coal with alternative goods.