The Port of Cork’s new €86m container terminal in Ringaskiddy is already too small and will need to be expanded in the future to meet the increased demand for goods and services due to population growth, the port company’s CEO Eoin McGettigan has said.
However, delays in progressing the M28 motorway to Ringaskiddy were hampering expansion plans and would delay the departure of the port company from the Tivoli docks which is planned to be redeveloped to accommodate 3,000 residential, office and retail units.
Eoin McGettigan, CEO, of Port of Cork said the facility will not reach capacity until the M28 motorway to Ringaskiddy is completed.
Completed and opened for container traffic this year the Cork Container Terminal (CCT) and is expected to handle 120,000 containers in its first year of operation. However, speaking at the Cork Chamber’s Business Breakfast event yesterday Mr McGettigan said the facility took three years to build and 14 years to plan which meant they were already planning to expand it further.
“The terminal that was just built and opened is already too small,” he said. “We need to spend about another €50m in different types of cargo handling equipment to get this up to capacity. But we also can’t get the capacity because the motorway to it is not built yet.”
“It is so important because this motorway will allow us to move out of Tivoli. And moving out of Tivoli to allow, simply be redeveloped for compact living and there is enough space to house 3,000 housing units and offices and retail. But we can’t leave. We are locked in there until the motorway is built.”
The Port of Cork chief said the delays in planning infrastructure needed to be resolved. “If I did have a magic wand I would change the planning system. The democratisation of planning has gone too far. I know why did it but it’s gone too far,” he said.
“The fact that it takes 14 years to build critical infrastructure by a company that’s owned by the government is crazy. There are flood relief plans in place for Cork City and traders on South Mall and Princes Street face floods. The budget is there to do it. If I could make one change it would be that.”
Looking to the short and medium turn, Mr McGettigan said they are beginning to see a softening in demand across their business as inflation impact consumer demand for products.
“Earlier this year, we were surprised at how busy we were. The imports and exports were both growing. As the year has moved on, imports have dropped due to softening consumer demand in Ireland.
Exports have held their ground but are beginning to soften now.
“Anybody who owns warehouses in Ireland right now is making a lot of money because the ‘just in time (JIT)’ stock management model has changed out to JIC ‘just in case’ and people are stockpiling everywhere. Sheds are full and we are seeing that.
“When we talk with our customers, next year is going to be flat. I believe they are overegging it. I think it will be a rocky year in terms of consumer demand. We in the port will be lucky to do the same revenue next year as we did this year.”
“Ports are a pretty resilient business but I would be concerned that we as a country don’t overspend as we have done in the past. And I think these tax windfalls that we have should be rainy-day funding.”
Alan Healy © Irish Examiner 2022