Port facilities expand or are relocated from their original locations according to several factors, such as outgrowing a limited space or avoiding clashes of use with expanding cities. Previous spatial models such as the famous Anyport model imply a natural evolution in port systems which can in reality be complicated by issues of port governance and competition.
The goal of the lastest portstudy by PortEconomics members Gordon Wilmsmeier and Jason Monios along with Adriana Francesca Ballén Farfánc (Hochschule Bremen, Germany) is to enrich the Anyport model with insights from port governance and the port life cycle model, focusing on strategies of port actors to avert a potential decline when the port reaches geographical or economic constraints.
The empirical application explores the evolution over five decades of the port of Guayaquil, Ecuador’s primary port and the second-busiest container port on the west coast of South America. In the 1990s and 2000s, port governance reform introduced devolution from the national level to local port authorities, the signing of terminal concessions to private operators and competition from other ports in the vicinity. In 2006 a new deep-water port, 85 km downriver and in a different governance jurisdiction, was proposed. Continuous legal and operational challenges stalled the construction of the new port, until it finally entered into operation in 2019. Despite this development, the existing Guayaquil port decided to go ahead with more channel dredging and to extend the existing container terminal concession for an additional 20 years in order to maintain its operations.
Thus, rather than a simple port migration to deeper water based on specialisation of tasks between deep sea and feeder activities, what has emerged is a competitive situation for the same hinterland between old and new ports. The port life cycle model provides a more dynamic view than purely spatial models, highlighting governance conflicts between local and national levels, power dynamics between global carriers and port terminal operators, changes in intra- and inter-port competition and horizontal complexities arising from municipal and regional boundaries between existing and available port locations.
The port study has been publushed in the Transport Geography (volume 93) and can be downloaded via journal’s website.