September 29 - EMS Albanian Port Operator (EMS APO), which is part of the EMS-Fehn-Group, claims to be experiencing renewed attacks by competitors that it believes are backed by the Durres Port Authority.
Staff members of three rival stevedoring companies have occupied the terminal of EMS APO over the past few days, while the pier of EMS APO was blockaded by an unauthorised vessel, explained EMS-Fehn-Group.
EMS APO has been forced to stop all activities. The terminal operator informed the port director immediately about the illegal action and asked for police to be sent in last Wednesday, but to date nothing has happened, said the group.
For over a year now, EMS APO says it has been the target of constant obstructions by rival companies that it claims are supported by the Albanian port authority. HLPFI reported on June 18, 2015 that staff members of three rival companies had entered the EMS APO terminals and forced crane operators to cease unloading a vessel.
At that time, EMS APO managing director and ceo of EMS-Fehn Group, Manfred Müller, described the event as the climax of a campaign that had been going on for months, with the Durres Port Authority and Albanian Ministry of Transport "trying to squeeze EMS APO out of business".
In 2013, EMS APO signed a long term leasing and operating agreement with the Albanian Ministry of Transport and invested more than EUR5 million (USD5.6 million) into the terminal.
Albanian ministerial officials acknowledged EMS APO's status as a certified stevedoring company only last week, explained the EMS-Fehn-Group, but that did not prevent rival companies from blocking the terminal. It remains occupied.
"We are extremely worried about the events on our terminal," said Müller. "Actions like these threaten the health and lives of staff members. A port terminal is a dangerous working area. Using staff members as instruments is unacceptable. It is outrageous that the port authority is doing nothing about the illegal occupation of our terminal."
He added: "We see this as an orchestrated attempt to squeeze EMS APO out of business. The latest statement from the Albanian Maritime Directorate makes it perfectly clear that we are working on a lawful basis. The behaviour of the Durres Port Authority counteracts all attempts to bring much needed foreign investments to Albania."
To learn more about the background to this long-standing dispute, see the article on pp. 135-136 of HLPFI's September/October 2014 edition. You can also read more about the Albanian terminal operator in the Ports & Terminals supplement included with the latest edition of HLPFI.
The Port of Durres.