Minister Belinda Balluku inspects Durres Port: Cargo ship processing continues uninterruptedly while 60% of essential goods are provided via sea transport through Durres Port. April 2nd 2020

The Minister of Infrastructure and Energy, Belinda Balluku, visited the Port of Durres, inspecting freight processing operations which carry on despite the COVID-19 pandemic logistic congestion. Cargo vessels arrivals as well as departures continue without disruptions. Due to land cargo services restrictions in most of the European countries, the Port of Durres is currently the main gateway ensuring free flow of goods to our country.

Durres Port Authority CEO, Pirro Vengu, confirmed that despite personnel reduction due to lockdown and other restrictive measures undertaken in the framework of social distancing and quarantine, Durres Port remained fully operational and freight processing has continued at a normal pace supplying over 60% of the country’s foodstuffs and essential goods via seaborne transportation.

“Currently, 60% of foodstuffs and essential goods have been supplied through the Port of Durres keeping the internal market functioning and responding effectively to the current public health crisis. The port handles over 300 refrigerated containers per day. Processing has been persistent during March, despite a reduction in staff due to quarantine imperatives and preventive measures” said Vengu.

Significant measures and operational adaptations are made on an ongoing basis in cooperation with the General Maritime Directorate, Customs Directorate as well as the Border Police in order to facilitate and accelerate procedures to port operators continuing their work despite the constraining challenges in global supply chain.

“We have latterly launched online services aiming to mitigate losses and cut costs causes by delays prioritizing financial costs that companies and operators are confronting due to business slowdown in this time of crisis. A 24 hour dedicated line has been provided to assist in real time all stakeholders inquiries regarding cargo processing which has currently resulted highly utilitarian and effective thanks to Durres Customs and the General Maritime Directorates mutual efforts and collaboration”, stated the Durres Port Authority CEO.

Minister Belinda Balluku underlined the importance of Durres Port as a logistic key point for the country ensuring vital supplies following the closure of land cargo services and land borders by many countries adding that continuous efforts are being made by international organizations in order to allow transport through green corridors.

“Durres Port has always been one of the most important access points of Albania, especially concerning seaborne freight trade. Due to the challenges encountered at the land borders, although appropriate measures to solve the problem through green corridors are being taken with an agreement established between the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat and CEFTA, during the intervening time the Port of Durres has carried the burden of these unusual, indeed unprecedented environment in terms of essentials-foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment supply chains.

Emphasizing the importance of exports, especially during this critical times for the national economy, the Minister of Infrastructure and Energy said that work should continue without obstructing or hindering the industry, considering that many contracts have been formerly concluded with foreign operators.

“Exports are very important. Of course, it is crucial to maintain running our national industry which has abiding contracts and robust positions in the overall economy, especially businesses and companies dealing with personnel shortages due to social distancing imperatives and are under pressure to meet contract deadlines amid the current crisis of staff. This should not  be the case with respect to the heavy industry, such as the production of turbines or the mining industry, because we must continue to export, bearing in mind that exports constitute a major part of our economy especially during this time of global economical slowdown as a result of the COVID- 19 pandemic”, declared Balluku.

The Minister of Infrastructure and Energy estimated the successful cooperation with the Italian Embassy, enabling the evacuation of many Italian citizens living in Albania to their native country through Durres Port.

“Excellent work has been done for the evacuation of Italian citizens in cooperation with the Italian embassy and obviously with the shipping companies which have assisted us in these difficult days. We have had an exceptional cooperation to help all Italian citizens, who have decided to leave Albania, to be quarantined in their own country”, confirmed Balluku.

Acknowledging appreciation and expressing gratitude for the Durres Port personnel who are in the front-line in this difficult days, Minister Balluku underlined the fact that there are no identified cases of Durres Port staff affected by COVID-19, praising the preventive measures undertaken and rigorously applied by the Port Authority, while noting that all current measures provided for shipping crews arriving in our country will continue to be applied in prevention of the virus outspread.