The week of 16th of February, on the shores of Barcelona, a unique event took place. In the framework of the ENPI-funded project Optimed, the European School of Short Sea Shipping (2E3S) together with the Chamber of Commerce Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIA-BML), with the collaboration of the Port of Barcelona, Portic Barcelona, Grimaldi Lines, CILSA-ZAL, Setram, Neutral Cargo and 2E3S’s external experts, organised a course in short sea shipping, the motorways of the sea and e-freight. The course participants were future teachers of intermodal transport. The goal was to transmit a better understanding of the concept of co-modality as a tool for improvement in transport management, in both costs and risk, and keeping in line with the environmental policy of the European Union. Through this the future teachers coming from Lebanon, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt could not only discover the operations of European short sea shipping routes, but gain a deep understanding of the methodology and objective of each session organised. Through this they will continue to impart this knowledge on the future generations of transport and logistics professionals from EU’s neighbouring countries.
In recent decades not enough emphasis has been put on the importance of training in transport and logistics management. The reasons for this are various – and include lack of appropriate programmes and cost. Nevertheless today there is a growing need for new education and training programmes for both students and professionals, focusing on the logistical requirements of intermodal EU or extra-EU transport operations. Technological incompatibilities between the systems in different countries hinder the creation of efficient and environmental logistics chains – and added with the ignorance of a large portion of the actors across the Mediterranean on the uses and benefits of intermodal transport – stop the growth of an effective and resourceful trade network. By promoting the creation of more educational programmes focusing on this, the training course for trainers will hopefully change this situation and optimise current existing systems.
Among a list of prestigious lectures and teachers were Salvatore d’Alfonso, Transport Manager at the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) Secretariat, who gave a lecture on strategic projects of the UfM for the coming years, and Gianfranco Fancello, Assistant Professor in Transport at the University of Cagliari. 2E3S staff, apart from imparting the majority of lectures and workshops, also fully designed and prepared the contents for the course. Adriana Díaz, 2E3S Quality Manager, was the academic director, and Eduard Rodés, 2E3S’s CEO, was the director of the training.
The course attendees have indeed benefited from the knowledge gleamed from the training, which also made them reflect on the potential impact that intermodal transport could have on the transport situation in their respective countries. Rayane Wehbe from TMS/ SITRAM stated that in Lebanon the academic situation related to intermodal transport is quite basic, and though there are courses offered, the “[concept of intermodal transport] is not so clear to [the students] and is not up to date to what happens especially in Mediterranean ports”. Wehbe then told the 2E3S that “offering an international training on logistic operations and procedures would contribute to share same level knowledge between all Mediterranean logistic operators and offer the possibility to unify procedures between them and [thus] make international flows more fluent and more secure” – an important message that was transmitted through Optimed’s Training course for Trainers. Mohamed Omrane from OMMP in Tunisia even suggested the creation of a pan-Mediterranean practical training programme on intermodal transport “in order to make people in the south Mediterranean countries conscious about the importance [of] develop[ing] further intermodal transport and short sea shipping and its role to improve competitiveness of Mediterranean economic actors, security and environment.”
Taking a more global perspective of intermodal transport, Wissam EL Hossari, from CCIA-BML underlined that “If the Optimed project is applied, the intermodal transport will form a significant portion of the sector in Lebanon, because all the goods coming from Europe can be unloaded in Port of Beirut and then transported by road to the neighbouring countries in the Middle East and the Gulf Council Countries (…)”. Rayane Wehbe further elaborated on this notion, stating that in Lebanon “ports of Beirut and Tripoli c[ould] play an important role in transhipment (which currently [is] the case for [the] Port of Beirut) and land transit to Syria/Iraq/Jordan, which is a potential for the mid-term. Consequently skills in the field of Intermodal logistics operations should be enhanced”. The main problem identified, however, in the smooth development of such programmes, was the political situation in neighbouring countries, including Syria and Iraq, which could either slow down or hinder successful implementation of such initiatives.
OPTIMED is a Mediterranean project funded by the European Union in the framework of the ENPI CBC MED programme. The general objective of the project is to contribute to the strength of the connection between the ports in the Mediterranean Sea through the creation of a new form of cooperation between countries in the Latin arc of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the countries of the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The specific objective is to optimize the maritime trade network between the Northern shores of the High Tyrrhenian arc and the southern-eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, creating an innovative virtual logistics platform structured around ports strengthened as Ro-Ro hubs. The project OPTIMED total budget is € 1.999.403 and it is financed, for an amount of € 1.799.462 (90 %), by the European Union (ENPI CBC Mediterranean Sea Basin Programme) through the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument.
The project is implemented by a Mediterranean Consortium composed of Autonomus Region of Sardinia (Italy), lead partner of the action, University of Cagliari – C.I.R.E.M. (Italy), Authority Port of Olbia e Golfo Aranci (Italy), Association for Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry –ASCAME (Spain), the European School of Short Sea Shipping, and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon.