Supervisory Board meeting of 19/11/2020 : On course for economic recovery despite current challenges

On Thursday 19 November 2020 the Supervisory Board of Grand Port Maritime de La Réunion, chaired by Olivier Hoarau, Mayor of Le Port, was held in the presence of Reunion Island’s Prefect, Jacques Billant. Deliberations covered several important items on the agenda, including approval of the 2021 initial budget. All items were approved unanimously.

At the beginning of the meeting Jean De La Perriere, Chair of the Development Council, was called upon to report on the latter’s work. As a stevedore he also elaborated on the difficulties encountered by his profession in recent weeks due to congestion of the container terminal.

During the discussions that followed, it was pointed out that the Supervisory Board had already anticipated this problem – recurrent at the end of each year – ever since the Strategic Plan was validated in November 2019. It found a medium-term solution by extending the open storage areas in the northern part of the Rear Port Zone (ZAP). The administrator representing the Departmental Council – owner of most of the land included in the port district – confirmed said Council has fully understood how important this matter is.

The Chair of the Executive Board confirmed what Mr De La Perriere had said about the port community’s difficulties in handling the large numbers of containers passing through Port Reunion. More than 40,000 containers were handled in October 2020: a new record that exceeded the previous one by 10%. All those involved in the supply chain had to be extremely responsive to achieve this record.

Meanwhile, discussions between the Port Authority and three main stevedoring firms working at the container terminal enabled considerable progress to be made, although fierce competition between the firms has not yet enabled a consensus to be reached on all matters.

As of 28 November work has begun to move the part of the Open Storage Area reserved for RoRo freight eastwards. This will free up 172 new container spaces, without affecting the surface area reserved for vehicles.

In addition, the stevedores have agreed among themselves how delivery areas should be allotted. This should meet the request to reduce congestion at the entrance to Port Est, which was a concern voiced by the transporters and forwarding agents during the consultative meeting held on 5 November with the Reunion Island Interprofessional Maritime Union (UMIR).

The Supervisory Board meeting also validated an investment of almost €16 million, half of which is earmarked to extend the Open Storage Areas in the sector previously occupied by the offshore coastal highway (NRL) construction site; the other half will be used to prepare port infrastructure for the arrival of 2 new gantry cranes in March 2022. Not counting the €17 million purchase of these two gantry cranes, in recent months Port Reunion has placed orders – or will be doing so before the end of 2020 – totalling more than €30 million for work that will be carried out in 2021 and 2022.

At island-wide level the Supervisory Board unanimously approved GPMDLR’s commitment, alongside that of local authorities, to implement an ecocity partnership development project (PPA). The TCO Chair stressed the sustainable development challenges of this approach – on a scale unprecedented in overseas France – and reiterated his desire to see actions already underway quickly become reality. GPMDLR will thus invest more than €30 million in works during this period, with projects including development of the Engineers’ Houses sector in Le Port town centre, where renovations will begin in 2021.

Lastly, looking further afield, the Supervisory Board was informed of the regional cooperation programmes currently underway with Seychelles and Mozambique, carried out in coordination with Reunion’s Maison de l’Export. These actions are jointly financed by INTERREG funds, which are managed by the Regional Council.

In this way Port Reunion is determined to fully assume its role contributing to Reunion’s economic recovery, working for the common good at different levels and in various ways.