The Italian government has reappointed the president of Taranto port authority in a holding role ahead of the approval of national ports reform legislation that will make the authorities regional entities and reduce their number to 13.
The mandate of Taranto port boss Sergio Prete is due to end this week, but transport minister Graziano Delrio has created for him the post of special commissioner responsible for the ports of Taranto and Brindisi for the next six months.
By the second half of 2015, Italian parliament is expected to have reviewed the draft ports legislation and hammered out the detail of the controversial issue of regional governance of Italy’s ports, which have traditionally been political appointments in many cases and are therefore likely to cause disputes.
The government also wants to leave Prete at the helm in the port of Taranto because it is at a key stage of its modernisation process and is tendering for a new operator to run its main container terminal.
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The coalition government of Matteo Renzi has already approved the draft legislation for ports reform under which the number of port authorities will be reduced to 13, with a number of ports sharing the same administration. For example, Genoa and Savona are being asked to unite under a single authority as are Ravenna and Ancona.
In general, the port authorities will be grouped on a regional basis, with a number of notable exceptions including Trieste and Venice, which will remain single port authorities despite being located near each other in the northeast region.
Italy has been trying for more than a decade to reform its ports structure. The proposal aims to reform both ports and their transport infrastructure in an effort to claw back some of the cargo volume the country has lost in the past decade to other Mediterranean region and northern range ports.