Port reforms to begin with two tenders in July

Transportation Minister Katz announces 2 tenders for a private company to build a new port to be published on July 1.

Haifa port 521 (photo credit: LIAT COLLINS)
Haifa port 521
(photo credit: LIAT COLLINS)
Transportation Minister Israel Katz revealed on Wednesday that after several years of planning, reforms to the nation’s ports were finally under way.
The minister said two tenders would be published on July 1 for a private company to build a new port.
“I decided to end the situation in which militant unions take advantage of the power in their hands and get privileges at the expense of the general public,” Katz wrote in a note on his Facebook page.
He said the tenders were part of a program that would increase competition and expand ports to reach deeper waters, which will facilitate larger ships.
Though stubborn rumors circulated the previous week that the government was preparing the IDF to take over the ports should the workers strike over proposed reforms, Katz said the government’s contingency plans were more limited.
“The unions will not have veto power,” he said, though he promised to maintain a dialogue with the workers.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would support fast-track legislation to declare ports “essential services” to limit their striking ability, and require arbitration, the transportation minister said.
Should strikes continue, the CEO of the Israel Ports Authority is ready with a plan to divert shipping through other ports. Some cargo would be unloaded at other Mediterranean ports, such as Greece, Cyprus or Turkey, and shipped through the Hadera port on smaller vessels.
Cranes would be used to replace Haifa port tugboats, should employees prevent their use. Diversions from the Eilat port would be broken down and unloaded in Jordan’s Aqaba port and brought over by land.
“I know that I will be subject to heavy pressure, but it is my intention to stick [with the reforms] as I did in previous reforms,” Katz said.