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Ferrying passengers and cargo across the Med

Date: 09/10/2011

Since 2001, the Motorways of the Sea have developed into a network, linking the main harbours of the Mediterranean.

Modern fast ro/ro passenger liners are intended to give the best service at a minimum cost, with Grimaldi providing low-cost ferry connections in January 2009 linking nine important Mediterranean ports. This year new connections have been introduced, linking Livorno to Valencia in Spain and to Morocco.

The Grimaldi Group has made huge investments in modern fast ferries operating from Rome and Barcelona and linking a number of European countries.

Thus vegetables and fruit from Ragusa in Sicily arrive in Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, from Catania in just 18 hours. Truck drivers rest in the comfortable cabins, so when the ferry reaches its destination, they are refreshed and ready to deliver the goods to their respective markets.

This helps the economy of all countries in the Mediterranean basin, since cargo is now transported efficiently by sea.

Before the Motorways of the Sea came into being, this exchange of goods would not have been possible. Moreover, the environmental benefits have still to be quantified but they are there for all to see; when a Visentini class ro/ro passenger ferry like Catania or Sorrento starts to unload, one can immediately realise what a huge amount of fuel is saved by the trucks: this means a reduction in pollution that would otherwise have been caused had the goods and raw materials been transported on land.

The safety factor is frequently overlooked and is as important as the economic and environmental aspects. Hazardous cargo is carried on the modern ro/ro vessels. Heavy equipment including marble slabs, Etna stone slabs, iron bars pose risks if transported by land but are relatively safe when transported by sea.

Costs are also substantially lower, especially if one considers the 20 to 30 per cent eco-bonus which the drivers receive on the total amount paid to buy the ferry tickets. This besides the savings in fuel.


Source: Times of Malta

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