Official: Ports in State of Anarchy

Calls on transport minister to fix the ills, or quit

For all the reforms, anarchy reigns at the ports, moaned Transportation Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman yesterday.

The reforms are full of holes, Siterman said. He added that port management's failure to induce workers to provide reliable service is "stupid."

Siterman was addressing an emergency meeting at Manufacturers Association headquarters Last week was the first time since port reforms were enacted two years ago that all the bodies relying on port services held a joint conference on the deterioration of the ports' functioning.
The regional president of the Manufacturers Association in Haifa and the North, Oded Feller, blamed Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz. "Mofaz is the only one responsible. He shouldn't hide. If he can't solve the problem at the ports, he should resign, because the situation of the ports is only growing worse."

Mofaz informed the industrialists and other bodies dependent on port services that he would initiate a discussion on the crisis at Sunday's government meeting. He also moved up his meeting with the leaders of all those bodies affected by the crisis to today.

Shipping Chamber President Reuven Tzuk complained there were at least 30 ships waiting outside every port - an unprecedented situation.

He charged constant neglect at the Haifa Port has left infrastructure greatly lacking, and "the Ashdod Port operates as a monopoly in every respect and is not interested in investing in personnel."

Haifa Port CEO Amos Uzani and Ashod Port CEO Shuki Sagis claimed in response that "the ports are operating reasonably," but they suffer from a lack of infrastructure and equipment as a result of years of neglect.