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The Maritime Congress has ended

On Friday 10th June this year, after three days of numerous debates, discussions and speeches, the 4th Maritime Congress had its official conclusion on board of Dar Młodzieży frigate.

While summarising the Congress, Minister Marek Gróbarczyk mentioned the signing of a letter of intent between partners interested in building ferries for Polish operators in Polish shipyard among successful achievements of that international event. The Minister highlighted that it was an important part of the reindustrialization programme. The programme aims at rebuilding the shipbuilding industry and will certainly boost economic growth in a number of heavy industry branches in Poland.

In his speech concluding the Congress, Dariusz Słaboszewski, the CEO of the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority and chairman of the Maritime Cluster of Western Pomerania, said that the event was a reason to be optimistic. - Some topics were discussed in detail others not, and yet some topics were only touched upon, he said. He also added that it was very good, since it meant that there would be plenty to talk about during the next fifth Maritime Congress, and invited everyone to attend that event.

The first day of the Congress started with its official opening marked by strikes of a ship’s bell, whereas the last day ended with the same on board of Dar Młodzieży to announce the conclusion of the 4th International Maritime Congress in Szczecin.

Before its end, Friday morning was filled with discussions on inland shipping. In his speech focusing on the potential of the Oder River, Prof. Michał Pluciński representing the Szczecin University presented results of research on supply and demand along the Waterway of Oder published in a monograph on ‘Possibilities of using inland waterway transport for cargo servicing of the Szczecin-Świnoujście Port Complex’ – with its working tile of the Oder Strategy commissioned by the Seaports Authority and developed by researchers based in Szczecin.

At the moment, the inland shipping accounts for only 4% of cargo handling to and from the Szczecin – Świnoujście port complex. Examples of other European ports, such as Hamburg and Antwerp, show that inland waterway transport can provide an excellent complement for their services. According to research, similar solutions can applied in the Szczecin-Świnoujście port complex. Navigation that continues for 250 days a year is sufficient for inland shipping to take over additional 10 million tons of cargo every year transported to and from ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście on the southern route and about 2 million tons on the east-west route (chiefly to and from Brandenburg and Berlin). As much as 75% of cargo to be transported along south-north waterway route is generated by companies based in the region of Silesia. However, to make it happen, we need to eliminate barriers for navigation that currently hamper the shipping. Once the Oder River is made navigable, Szczecin and Świnoujście will gain access to three the cheapest and the most environmentally friendly modes of transport (sea, inland waterway and rail).

This year’s Congress was unique, since for the first time it was held under the auspices of the new Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Shipping and an honorary patronage of the minister Marek Gróbarczyk. Moreover, for the first time in its four year history, the role of the Congress was highlighted with the speech by the Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło.