Mofaz forms task force to deal with ports crisis

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz established a special task force Sunday to resolve the seaport crisis, in which a lack of personnel and poor management has resulted in serious losses to the economy. The team, headed by Ministry Director-General Gideon Sitterman, was asked to examine the operational and logistic structure in each of the ports and recommend solutions to improve operations and satisfy the requirements of seaport users. The task force was formed in reaction to an emergency conference held Thursday by the Manufacturers Association together with the Shippers Council and the Chamber of Shipping in which the ministry was criticized for its inaction in ending the months-long crisis. The task force includes representatives from the Chamber of Shipping, the Road Transport Board, the Finance Ministry, the Shippers Council, and the Manufacturers Association. Mofaz reported on the issue to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Sunday's cabinet meeting stating that: "It is unacceptable that the Israeli economy loses millions of shekels because of management problems and personnel shortages." In response to the forming of the task force, the conference organizers said that they commended the minister for taking responsibility and acknowledging the severity of the crisis.