Official: Post-reform Sea Ports Plagued by 'Anarchy'

Anarchy reigns over the ports, bemoaned Transportation Ministry Director General Gideon Siterman yesterday. Port reforms are "full of holes," he said. He added that port management's failure to bring workers on board to ensure proper service to customers is "stupid."

Siterman was addressing an emergency meeting at Manufacturers Association (MAI) headquarters. This is 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.

Regional president of MAI in Haifa and the North, Oded Feller, said, "Mofaz is the only one responsible. He shouldn't hide. If he can't solve the problem prevailing at the ports, he should leave his position 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.