Competition Authority warning to Dublin Port over 110-year lease
COMPETITION at Dublin Port is being restricted due to long leases enjoyed by two terminal operators and "effective monopolies" operated by two stevedoring firms which unload goods from ships, the Competition Authority has said in a major new report.
The watchdog said that Dublin Ferryport Terminals (DFT) had about 110 years left to run on its lease at the port, while another terminal operator, Marine Terminals (MTL), has 85 years left on its lease.
DFT is owned by Irish Continental, which owns the Irish Ferries brand, while MTL is part of Peel Ports, the second-largest group of ports in the United Kingdom.
"The leases that Lo-Lo terminals operate under are exceptionally long and may have the effect of restricting competition by severely limiting the scope for new entry," warned the Competition Authority.
"Dublin Port Company should seriously consider reducing the duration of these leases in order to address their anti-competitive impact."
The report on Ireland's ports was undertaken at the request of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, as part of the Government's Action Plan for Jobs.
A third terminal operator at State-owned Dublin Port, Burke Shipping Group (BSG), has been working under a 20-year 'general stevedore' licence that will be automatically renewed in 2014 for a further 20 years on identical terms.
The Competition Authority said that while Dublin Port Company could influence the efficiency with which BSG uses the port infrastructure, such as introducing charges for containers that remain in port beyond a given number of days, the same types of charges could not be imposed on DFT or MTL under their long lease agreements.
The authority also said it had concerns regarding the licensing of stevedore services at Dublin Port.
It said there were only two general stevedore licences currently available. One operator generally provides services at the north quay, while the other focuses on the south quay.
"These companies therefore enjoy effective monopolies in their respective licensed areas," according to the Competition Authority.
The two stevedoring firms are BSG and Dublin Stevedores.