On his office wall, Port of Rotterdam CIO Lourens Visser has a map of the city that clearly, as maps do, underlines the size of the port and points to its history from its origins in the 13th century to today’s newly reclaimed modern harbour which welcomes the world’s largest ships. Often called the Gateway to Europe, the Port of Rotterdam is the continent’s and, until recently, the world’s, largest port.
Over 34,000 sea-going ships visit the Port of Rotterdam every year and 100,000 barges take goods from the port to the rest of Europe, but the port also operates rail and road services and an advanced pipeline network, all of which are dedicated to getting goods from ships to corporations and consumers right across Europe, including the UK.
Harbour dues from ship owners make up half of the organisation’s income, while the other half comes in rental income for the wide variety of business that operate within the port area.
“We are landlords and a very good infrastructure management company,” Visser explains. The city of Rotterdam and the national government of Holland own the Port of Rotterdam and each receives a dividend from the port. This adds levels of both simplicity and complexity to the organisation, moving it away from politics but leading it to operate mindful that people live close to the port and within a highly regulated sector. The port is also involved in the management of the roads around the port as its existence places the greatest pressure on the network.
“We are very profitable, so you need a good relationship also with the clients that use the port and to ensure that the profit is used to invest in making the port better,” says Visser.