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The Chairman of the Port Authority of Castellon, Rafa Simó, underscored the port’s excellent numbers, its increased visibility and better public accessibility

31 March 2023

“We have shown that a port authority can implement sound policies”

“I would like to thank Ana Ulloa and José María Gómez for their leadership of PortCastelló and I am convinced that Enrique Vidal’s management skills will give the port a further boost”

 

The Chairman of the Port Authority of Castellon, Rafa Simó, accompanied by the APC Director José María Gómez, today took stock of his time at the helm of the authority. “Two and a half successful years, during which we have built a future where the Port of Castellon has gained visibility and has become more accessible to the general public, and in which we have made investments to help people and create jobs and wealth in the province”.

Rafa Simó appeared before the media before leaving the organisation and began by talking about “unfinished projects, which we are working on so they can become a reality”. He mentioned the need to “effectively apply the 5th Stevedoring Framework Agreement to provide security and competitiveness to the stevedoring service”. He also referred to the new use for the cinema building in the Grau de Castellon, the effective consolidation of the Port of Castellon’s category change and the valuation of the land pending approval by the Ministry of Finance. He also referred to the upgrading of the lighthouses owned by PortCastelló, “although agreements with the municipalities in which they are located still need to be finalised so that they can be visited”.

Subsequently, Rafa Simó referred to the port’s achievements and divided them into five core management areas: business, internal management, environment, society and infrastructure.

1.- In the business area, the Chairman of the Port Authority highlighted the approval of the Demarcation of Port Areas and Usage (DEUP), the improvement of the port’s reputational image thanks, among other aspects, to a Code of Ethics, the approval of the 2024 Strategic Plan, “which defines our mission and establishes the roadmap to follow so we can become a benchmark for sustainable logistics development, supported by digital transformation”.

He also highlighted PortCastelló’s results, “which made 2022 the best year ever in terms of profit and investment and brought the lowest level of borrowing in the last ten years and the highest volume of rebates”.

The start of the Digital Transformation Plan and the signing of the Smart Ports Chair with the UJI are milestones “that will put the Port of Castellon at the forefront of innovative, intelligent ports”.

Rafa Simó underlined the importance of the Octopus project, which is already underway. “The first phase has begun thanks to the collaboration with the Spanish government through Adif (Spanish Railway Infrastructure Authority), so that 12% of the total area to be reclaimed from the sea will be built with the material left over from the work on the Port of Castellon’s south rail access, i.e., a total of 300,000 m3 of material which will provide 40,000 new square metres of land”.

This project is associated with sales efforts to attract new industries. “The project has aroused the interest of ten companies which, if it materialises, would mean a surface occupancy of 400,000 square metres”.

2.- Rafa Simó highlighted the Port of Castellon’s change of category from III to II in the Spanish port system, “endorsing the sustained growth that the port has experienced in recent years and its importance as a major Spanish port”.

He also highlighted the creation of public employment by the Port Authority of Castellon, with “a total of 20 new positions in the last two years”. During 2023, four new positions will be created. In addition, “new work shifts have been implemented for the port police, bringing a more flexible, better work-life balance for all staff.” All these measures have led to the port being awarded Family Responsible Company certification.

3.- The head of the organisation listed all the environmental protection initiatives carried out, highlighting the pioneering voluntary agreement with the Valencian Regional Government to improve air quality. It is worth noting that in 2022 PortCastelló complied with the standards on particle emissions into the atmosphere. Rafa Simó added that “we have worked hard and will continue to do so to ensure we are an excellent environmental ally, thanks to an increase in the number of dust-trapping screens, the installation of wheel washers, daily monitoring of loading and unloading operations and specific training for our port police officers”.

He also referred to the Port Authority’s commitment to the residents living in the Almassora beach area and to the Almassora Town Council to implement a number of measures to support the regeneration of this part of the coastline. “I have always said that the Port of Castellon must be part of the solution to the problems suffered at the beach in Almassora”.

In addition, Simó indicated that all these actions come on top of the €36 million in private investment that terminals are making on the Ceramics Quay, which “are bringing major environmental protection improvements”.

4.- On the social front, the Chairman of the Port Authority of Castellon referred to the strategic alliances that have been forged with various organisations and governmental bodies to promote port-province integration, as well as to the reconstruction of the Port Community after the pandemic. In addition, he referred to three essential infrastructures which facilitate closer links between the port and the general public, such as the recovery of the Navy Command Headquarters, the renovation of the Moruno Espai Cultural building and the accessibility works undertaken throughout the area open to the public.

He also announced that “we comply with 96% of the indicators set by the Ministry of Economy’s Transparency and Good Governance Council, and according to the independent body Dyntra, “we are the most transparent Spanish port authority”.

 

Rafa Simó reiterated his objective of opening the Port of Castellon up to the public and listed three initiatives to achieve this, i.e., the port’s “open house” programme on the last Sunday of every month, the Al Port cycle, and the launch of audio branding for PortCastelló, the first of its kind in a Spanish port.

 

In this section on society, Rafa Simó said that the port’s Sustainability Plan will be presented in the next few weeks.

5.- As regards infrastructure, he said that the financial analysis for the intermodal station is practically finished. “This is an essential piece of infrastructure for the competitiveness of the port and its companies, which has a definitive budget of €21 million”. The station will be located on the new south rail access to the port and the plan is to put the work out to tender in the second half of 2023 year and award it at the end of the year.

In terms of road connectivity, Simó explained that the drafting of the project for the road link between the two docks has already been awarded. “This will increase functionality and make PortCastelló one single port”. He also reported that half of the internal rail network has been completed, that the tender for the first section has been awarded with work beginning shortly, and that the project for the second section is finished and the first compulsory land purchases have already been made.

This global railway connectivity project involves public investment of €250 million, “the largest amount ever in the province of Castellon”.

In addition, Rafa Simó pointed out some of the most notable projects completed during his tenure, such as the bridge over the Iberdrola channel, the new liquid bulk berth and the fire-fighting network in the port’s North Dock.

Rafa Simó mentioned the Nazmiye Ana tragedy, thanking all those involved during the 42 days the incident lasted for all of their cooperation. He thanked Ana Ulloa and José María Gómez for their leadership and involvement at the helm of PortCastelló, as well as the work of the Port Authority team. “In recent years we have shown that a port authority can implement sound policies and not just manage inertia”.

Finally, he referred to his successor, Enrique Vidal: “I am convinced that his management skills and experience will give the port a further boost”.

 

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