Ports and terminals are the essential parts of the global cargo distribution system for imports and exports. Because most economies of the world depend on imports and exports for growth, efficient international transport, which relies on a good port and terminal system, must be in place to achieve this growth. Inadequate port infrastructure can cause harm to the economy of any nation by raising the cost of moving goods. There is no way the international cargo distribution system can function properly without efficient ports and terminals.
A port is often referred to as a harbour and is generally defined as a place where ships can take shelter or dock to load and unload passengers and cargoes. In reality, a port is a gateway through which goods (and passengers) pass in and out of a country. It is, therefore, not restricted to ships but also covers places where aircraft can load and discharge cargo and passengers. It should be emphasized that every cargo that is transported internationally must pass through a port, except in cases where the goods are carried by surface transport modes such as rail, through land borders.
Inefficiencies at the ports can slow down the movement of goods which can create additional costs for them as well as inhibit the free flow of global trade. This is the reason governments and private investors are encouraged to make investments in them. They do this in order to modernize and expand them to cope with challenges which have resulted from an increase in world trade. Ports, therefore, must be run as commercial and viable businesses.
Ports are recognised all over the world as part of any country’s transport infrastructure. Roads, rails, and inland waterways need to be integrated with the port system to allow for easy access into the hinterlands. Ports and terminal operators have a great influence in the safe, secure, efficient and timely handlings of cargoes. Delays at the ports can have adverse effects on cargo flow and thus affect the operations of manufacturing and trading organizations.
Thus, efficiency in port operations is required to support other activities within the logistics process to achieve better overall performance in the supply chain. Carriers who are major users of ports and terminals pay a great deal of attention to the turnaround time of their ships and aircraft. A well-managed port seeks to ensure that the time it takes to unload, load, refuel and undertake port formalities is short. Port and terminal operators must do so because it is a major strategy for attracting businesses to the port.
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