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Inland navigation along the French stretch of the Rhine may have been impacted by the wave of strikes gripping France, but fears of delays spreading along the waterway are unwarranted, claimed a consultant today.
Changes to retirement age plunged France into months of disruption, leading shippers to demand the EC step in to ensure blockades and walkouts don’t delay transit of goods. However, claims the Rhine had been “brought to a standstill” have been challenged.
“Important French industrial locations, such as Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Colmar have been hit by strikes in France,” SeasC4U’s inland consultant, Gunther Ginckels, told The Loadstar.
“France is responsible for about 13% of the 116m tonnes handled in Rhine ports, so this is by no means insignificant, but we do not see this as a devastating impact on inland navigations on the river.”
Mr Ginckels was responding to secretary general of the European Shippers Council Godfried Smit and the European Barge Union’s Theresia Hacksteiner suggesting the delays in France were having a wider effect on river traffic.
An outspoken critic of the processing of barge traffic, he said the French numbners were dwarfed by the 96m tonnes, or 83%, handled by Germany’s inland ports,
“I cannot see an issue for the large German industrial areas, as these are on German territory and controlled by German authorities,” he said.
“Switzerland and some [other] industrial areas are impacted, but the impact on German industry is very limited.”
He added: “I assume that the main pressure [on the EC to act] comes from the Swiss forwarding community – and rightfully so – as it is very dependent on the inland port of Basel, now suffering from the French social unrest.”
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