Short Sea shipping(SSS) is a term used to refer to the movement of cargo along the coast and also waters that are outside the coast. SSS means the movement of cargo that is either dry or wet, passengers and also containers in the waters either along the coast or in the Inland waters but in this case using a different type of vessel. The ships used for the short sea shipping weigh from one thousand tonnes to one thousand five hundred tonnes in weight. Their diameters range form three meters to six meters. They are used to carry goodies that include stones, scrap metals, steel metals, grains, fertilizer, products of oil, as well as passengers.
In areas such as Europe, SSS is the main mode of transport. It accounts for nearly forty percent of the total cargo that enters Europe. In the United States of America, this mode of transport is not well entrenched as it is in Europe but of late it has really improved and is being used to a larger extend.
In the same Europe, this mode of transport was infact the only means of transport that could compete with road transport. Of late, it has started to outdo the road transport. The European Transport policy (ETP) has its objectives that are likely to be made possible by the advent of the short sea shipping.
1.1 The Aim and Objectives.
The report is focusing on the role and function of short sea shipping within the transport industry today and its importance for the future. It also aims to identify the type of vessels used for the short sea shipping and the major commodities carried using these vessels and also discuss the major strengths and weaknesses of this mode of transportation against other modes. It will also give conclusions at the end with the aim of justifying why it should be used and why it should be transformed into a much better means of transport basing on its advantages over other means of transport.
2.0 Literature Review.
2.1 Short Sea Shipping in the Eastern Mediterranean.
There is a difference between deep sea and short sea shipping in the Mediterranean region. This mode of transport covers all the transport of the sea in the region but does not cover the entire crossing of the ocean (Verdee 1995). Here, the ships used are those that carry cargo which is less that carried by the big ocean crossing ships.
This mode of transport plays a very significant role in the transit of goods and passengers into and out of the Mediterranean region. This role is being understood and recognised at a very fast rate by the European community. This mode of transport has been given attention by the European makers of policy because it has a bright future.
2.2 Why the Region is best suited to trade in the Short Sea Shipping.
The Mediterranean region is best suited for this type of trade because of a number of reasons. First, is the economic growth of the region. There are a lot of bottlenecks in the land and as a result impacts negatively on transport. This problem has therefore called for the need to have other alternatives of transport. Short sea shipping being the most available, efficient, effective and cost efficient has turned out to be the main solution to this problem.
Short Sea Shipping has its own natural advantages that the other modes of transport do not have. It is regarded as the most cost effective mode of transport basing on such factors as its impact on the environment, its effectiveness when it comes to development, its efficiency in terms of energy saving coupled with the fact that it does not require any infrastructure as it is natural and readily available.
There is also the political advantage that the Mediterranean region enjoys over the other regions. It is quite unlikely to find any political upheavals in this region and this has therefore impacted positively on the Short Sea Shipping trade.
The major commodities carried by this type of transport mode include; barley, frozen fish, potatoes, grains, fertilizer among other commodities.
2.3 Types of Vessels used in the Short Sea Shipping.
There are five major types of ships used in the SSS in Europe. They include:
1). Single-deck bulk Vessels. These are vessels that are use in the transportation of cargoes that are nearing bulk. Examples are metallic products and metal it. These can only carry these products but not the traditional cargoes that are meant to be very bulky.
2). There are the Container feeder vessels and vessels that are for general cargo. These are meant for carrying break-bulk and cargoes that are of high value.
3). Bulk tankers and carriers. These are smaller in size that the conventional bulk carriers. They are used for transporting dry and liquid bulk cargoes.
2.4 The Benefits of Short Sea Shipping.
Alleviation of congestion (Verdee 1995). Congestion in the transport industry is a major problem in the present generation. One wonders why and yet there are the most advanced forms of technology and the brightest minds to solve the problems. Many cargoes are moved from place to place within and across the borders of a country. As a result, there is a lot of congestion on the road and air transport. The short sea shipping tends to alleviate such hitches. When using such means of transport, more cargoes are moved from place to place at ones unlike the other means of transport which carry less cargo.
According to Verdee (1995), decrease of air pollution is also another benefit. When using methods such as the road transport, air pollution is eminent. The vehicles that carry goods on the roads such as Lorries and trailers do cause a lot of harm to the environment and also to human beings as a result of air pollution. The emission from such vehicles mix with the air and also rain to form toxic substances such as hydrochlorous rain which causes decaying of iron sheets and harm to the plants. The sea shipping does not pollute the air and thus is considered to be the best means of transport in Europe and other places.
Overall cost savings to both the government and the shipper (Verdee 1995). This mode of transport requires less in terms of transportation fee. It is cheaper compared to other means of transport such like road and air. It is completely economical to use sea transport especially when one is moving a lot of goods across the waters. The amount of moving 100 tonnes of goods using the road transport could be equivalent to moving 1000 tonnes of the same goods using sea shipping. This has indeed made so many people to resort to this mode of transport in order to minimise on their costs of transport and maximise on the amount of cargo being transported. Economies of scale come into place here.
More efficient and cost effective than the road transport. When using the sea shipping mode of transport, fragile goods can easily be transported and reach the destination without many breakages as compared to road transportation. Glassware and furniture are normally transported using the sea. This also cuts down on the cost of transportation as the goods are not charged according to their fragile nature like it happens when using the road transport. All goods are charged the same. Be they fragile of not. This therefore reduces the costs involved in the long run.
Much less prone to theft and other damages. When using sea shipping as a mode of transport, theft cases are unheard of. Damages are also very minimal and sometimes negligible. Unlike other methods of transport, sea shipping offers the best in terms of security of the goods being transported. Many corporations, businesses and even the government organs such as the army use the sea shipping to a much greater extend because of his nature of goods being dealt with.
It is also flexible when using this mode of transport in that the rules and regulations are easily adjustable by the servicing companies to cater for the needs and demands of the customer.
Reliable transit times (Verdee 1995). The sea shipping provides for reliable times of transit of the goods. Some goods have to be in a particular place at a particular time according to the various agreements involving the buyer and the seller. Such terms have to be adhered to in most cases and therefore the person moving the goods cannot risk and use other means of transport as their transit times are not reliable at all. This means that they will opt for sea shipping transportation mode.
There are so many bottlenecks associated with the land. Traffic jams and other forms of problems lead to a lot of delays when using the road as a means of transport. The sea therefore provides an easier way of avoiding such like bottlenecks. In the sea, there are no traffic related problems and this makes it easier for transportation.
The need to construct railway lines and roads is reduced. SSS can reduce the need to construct new infrastructure which include rails and roads (Caspers 1992:45). This will reduce the pressure on the infrastructure that exists already. Such new projects are too expensive, consume a lot of time and also need a lot of space that at times is not available. By opting for short sea shipping, such expenses are reduced and in most cases eliminated completely.
2.5 Long Time Benefits.
For the purposes of helping to attain the targets of the congestion problem in the Mediterranean region in the roads and the railway divisions, the body that is concerned with the transportation is promoting the SSS so as to take care of the situation. This practice employs the current vessels and the infrastructure to transport cargo between the ports intended for destination.
It is important to put such measures in place because transport is an integral object in the economy of a country. In order to do so, there is the need for improving the technology of the vessels and the manner in which it is handled. European countries use the short sea shipping mode of transport as a way of taking care of the problems caused by other means of transport. More than 44% of the transport in Europe in via water. This SSS has therefore been put in close coordination with the road and railway transport so that they can work in tandem.
2.6 The strengths and weaknesses of Short Sea Shipping.
It can offer transportation at affordable rates compared to other means of transport such as roads and railways. There is also the fact that when using the sea, there is no limitation on the amount of time one can use as the waters are free to access seven days a week and 365 days a year. The other strength is that the shippers nowadays have the ability and knowledge of using this mode of transport and therefore making it more efficient and effective unlike other means. Also, there is no problem when it comes to expansion of the infrastructure. Water bodies are free to use by anyone and at any time.
The weaknesses include the following. This mode of transport requires a lot of capital to implement. The capital is so much that people tend to shun away from establishing the business because it take too long for the returns to be realised. The SSS has the weakness of not being able to offer services that are intended for door to door. It is not flexible enough like the road or the railway. It means that if somebody was to use this mode of transport, he/she has to incorporate it with other means of transport in order for them to deliver to the door step. The other point is also the need to plan adequately and carefully. This requires a lot of manpower and resources that are not easily available. The manpower to plan could lead to a lot of costs and eventually reluctance by the investors. There is also the problem or difficulty in arranging for sea transport. The complications involved in most cases ten to scare away the customers as they go through so many huddles in the process of arranging for the transportation of their cargoes. The other problem is the poor impression and image portrayed by the ports and the sea transport as a whole. Some port officials are too arrogant and cannot treat their customers in a good way. This sends mixed reactions to the customers and end up using other means of transport as an alternative.
2.7 The impediments of this mode of transport.
There are quite a number of obstacles that hinder the development of the short sea shipping mode of transport. Many people still view it as a mode of transport that is gone with the wind because it is old fashioned and cannot cope with the nowadays modernised transport means. It is viewed as an archaic mode of transport by many people and therefore suffers the problem of it not being the people are most preferred. In Europe, road transport, air transport and railway transport are the most commonly used means of transport and have gone ahead to outdo the short sea shipping.
There is also the problem of integrating the short sea shipping mode into the much used door to door services (Marlow 2002:168). It is very difficult to transform this means of transport into a door to door service because of the amount of cargo carried by the ship, the proximity of the seas and oceans to the destination of the cargoes and also the willingness of the people to accept such a means closer to their specific places of aboard. The dream of integrating the SSS into the door to door aspect is still unaccomplished in Europe (Caspers 1992:42). If this works, then there will be positive response and feedback fro the people by opting to use the means basing on the advantages that comes with it.
Thirdly, there is the problem of complexity in the administration of the documentation of the rules and procedures that need to be followed while dealing with the short sea shipping mode of transport (Marlow 2002:168). These predicaments have not yet been addressed by the concerned bodies and therefore remain a nightmare. Most people will not opt for a means of transport where unnecessary procedures and complex documentation is involved. The easier way out is always the best.
The fourth aspect is the issues of how the ports are handled, their services and mode of operation (Caspers 1992:43). Cargo clearing and forwarding has always been a major problem associated with this mode of transport. It takes to long for cargoes to be cleared from the port and thus end sup leading to a lot of congestion and delays. The urgent cargoes such as food stuffs end up delaying at the ports for months thus leading to traffic snarl ups at the ports.
There is also the need to change the facilities at the port to take care of the SSS (Marlow 2002:167). Facilities that are found at the port are those designed for large ships and vessels and not for the SSS. These include the loading and unloading facilities which are considered to be very different for the two classes of vessels.
2.8 The Role of the European Union.
The European Union has the mandate and role of promoting the short sea shipping. For instance, in nineteen ninety nine (1999) (Marlow 2002:167), the commission came forward with a suggestion to increase the awareness of the mode of transport. It also went ahead to present another paper which empasised the need to maintain an effective and efficient system of transport in the European region and also went ahead to suggest its relevance in the future.
The Council, the parliament and the member states need to continuously support the move in order for this means of transport to capture the required share of the market. Many ways were brought forward as to how to promote the transport system in order for it to be a success.
It is recommended that there is the need to use communication avenues and other existing mechanisms to educate people on the importance of short sea shipping and also encourage them to evaluate this mode of transport against other modes of transportation and make informed decisions on which ones to adapt. Short Sea Shipping should be adopted by the various shipping bodies for the purposes of cutting down of their overall shipping costs, avoiding the environmental pollution especially air, utilising the available natural resources (water) among the many advantages that are involved with SSS.
It is in the best interest of governments and people at large to expand the SSS mode of transport as it may turn out to be a way of enhancing cargo movement thereby supplementing railways lines and road ways. This will ease congestion in the metropolis and other corridors of transport thus reducing the need for roads and rail way corridors. Even as the importance of SSS can be seen as an enhancement of mobility and the fact that it is cost effective and viable, there is the concern of the reluctance by the shippers. The fears are making the shippers not shun away from this option thus affecting its further development and acceptance.
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