Ports in practice

The most important difference between a port and any other sector of the economy is that ports all operate 24/7 and mesh their activities to match local tides. There is no question of working to any other priority. Port owners charge for their services on the basis of weight/mass/size and will charge penalty payments for disruption to their schedules caused by a client’s time slippage. Basic services include loading/unloading cargo; storing goods; transferring goods from one vessel to another; dockside crane lifting. 

Penalties are imposed for late arrival; early arrival; storage without prior booking; demeurage, which was a medieval tax on saleable goods or assets deliberately kept out of the market in the hope of getting a stronger price at a later date. Readers may also encounter an anglicised spelling, demurrage.

Shipping lines pay port operators to get haulage and passenger traffic through the port and on to a ship. The roadways are all a part of the service and an opportunistic tax just to keep traffic moving is equivalent to being slapped round the face with a wet towel. The inland BCP at Sevington cost either £154 or £174 million to set up, depending on whose narrative is being presented. But it is not worth a brass farthing unless it works 24/7 and worth even less for not being part of a transport network node, not to mention twenty miles or so inland from the port of Dover.  DEFRA fails to specify that the site operates 24/7, but this can deducted from the website’s reference to unhappy local residents kept awake by the nightime floodlighting. Sounds like the worst of both worlds.

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