The Minister of Infrastructure and Energy Belinda Balluku visited the port of Durres, Albania’s largest seaport, where work continues largely uninterrupted to handle the incoming cargo ships, as well as the freight carriers shipping export goods and equipment. With the land transport limited in many countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the port of Durres is the main gateway and the only transport type to ship goods.
The Head of the Durres Port Authority Pirro Vëngu said that despite the reduced working hour and staff due to the stay-at-home orders and other measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the cargo and containers handling activities in the port of Durres has continued uninterrupted and more than 60% of the food products arriving in our country are handled in this port’s quays.
“Currently, 60% of the food products coming to our country go through the Port of Durres. We have a capacity of 300 refrigerated containers per day. Processing has been constant during March, despite a reduction in staff due to quarantine and protective measures,” Vëngu said.
A series of measures have been taken in collaboration with the General Maritime Directorate, the Customs Administration and the Border Police in order to facilitate procedures and reduce time for the port operators that continue their operations over these weeks.
“We have launched online services designed to make up for the lost time and the financial cost that companies and port operators may incur during this crisis period. A dedicated line has been launched to provide real time response to all individuals seeking to handle their goods in a shorter time and, for the sake of truth, thanks to the cooperation with the customs administration and the maritime directorate the processing of cargoes and containers has taken place at a fairly satisfactory rate,” the Director of the Durres Port Authority said.
The Infrastructure and Energy Minister highlighted that closure of land borders by many countries have turned the Port of Durres into the main gate for the country’s supply with the necessary goods, adding that efforts are being made by international bodies to allow green lanes at border crossings that will be open to all freight vehicles carrying any type of goods.
“The port of Durres has always been one of the main access points that the Republic of Albania has had, especially for the cargoes of goods. Due to the problems encountered at the land border, although appropriate measures are also being taken under an agreement between the Permanent Secretariat of the Transport Community and CEFTA to resolve this problem through the so-called green lanes, but the Port of Durres has been carrying the bulk of the burden in these difficult days, in terms of transportation of most wanted goods,” Balluku said.
Putting emphasis on the importance of exports to the national economy, especially during this period, the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy said that work should continue without creating any obstacles to this sector, because many of them have already concluded contracts with foreign operators.
“Exports are crucially important. The industries currently operating in the country should definitely go on with their activity to meet the requirements of the contracts they have already signed, especially now when many businesses and companies especially operating in the garment industry have been forced to cut the number of their employees, lower the rate of work and delay the deadlines for fulfilment of the contracts’ criteria. Many companies have been forced to halve the number of their workers. But in the case of heavy industry, such as the production of turbines or the mining industry, we must continue to export, as exports play an important role in our economy, currently affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic, as it has already happened all over the world,” Balluku said.
The Infrastructure and Energy Minister noted that very good cooperation was established with the Italian Embassy during this period, as a significant number of Italian nationals, who were in Albania and who wanted to depart for their country, were indeed evacuated via the port of Durres.
“A laudable good job has been also done with the evacuation of the Italian nationals in collaboration with the Italian Embassy and certainly with the ferry companies that have been operational over all these extremely difficult days. We have had an excellent cooperation to help all stranded Italian nationals, who have decided to leave Albania and self-quarantine themselves in their homes in Italy,” Balluku.
Appreciating the Durres port workers for working around the clock in these difficult days, Minister Belinda Balluku highlighted the fact that due to the measures taken by the Port Authority none of the workers have contracted the COVID -19 infection and these preventive measures will be implemented by the members of the crews docking in Durres in order to stem the spread of the virus.
source: Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy of the Republic of Albania