Source: adapted from Hoyle B.S. (1989) "The port-city interface: trends problems and examples", Geoforum, Vol. 20, pp. 429-35.
Port / City Relations
Many cities around the world have built an intricate relationship with their port since they owe their origin to their port site. Conventionally, the economic dynamism of many cities was linked to their port which was a source of employment and commercial interactions with the global market. Still, the waterfront occupies valuable space in proximity to urban activities which can be a source of dynamism, but also of conflicts. The issue of land and water uses along the waterfront, which is a valuable zone of interface, is therefore requiring cooperation between the port and the city so that social and environmental externalities are mitigated. In recent decades, the prevailing trend has been a growing level of disconnection between ports and their host cities, particularly because of globalization and containerization. The main factors that have favored a port-city disconnection are:
  • The migration of several terminals towards peripheral locations. The need for additional space and deeper drafts have incited terminal operators to seek new sites that are located further away from the conventional sites.
  • The containerization of terminals has reduced labor requirements since a modern container terminal is capital intensive and require a small quantity of qualified labor to operate. Port terminal thus employ much less people than before, reducing a whole array of port/city interactions, such as commuting.
  • Safety and security issues have become more salient implying that access to port areas, particularly terminals, is restricted.
  • Modern ship operations require less labor. Also, due to flags of convenience, ship labor is mostly multinational (e.g. Philippines) and therefore not linked to the communities along the ports of call. Containerships spend little time at ports, often less than 24 hours, considerably reducing opportunities for shore leaves.
  • Hinterland accessibility has improved, implying that the majority of economic activities using the port are located further inland and not, as it was conventionally the case, in close proximity to port terminals.