CHARLESTON IS STILL GETTING CRUSHED BY SAVANNAH, THOUGH …
The embattled S.C. State Ports Authority (SCSPA) says it moved 192,411 twenty foot-equivalent units (TEUs) during the month of March – a new record.
That’s a thirteen percent increase from March 2016 – and beats the record set in January of this year by approximately 7,000 TEUs.
“We are excited about the further deployment of large container ships, including the first 13,000 TEU container ship in May,” SCSPA president and CEO Jim Newsome said in a press release.
Good news? Sure … unless you look at the context (something the Palmetto State’s mainstream media almost never does).
South Carolina’s top rival – the Port of Savannah – moved 311,770 TEUs during the month of March. And that’s before its expanded facilities come online.
Charleston currently finds itself in a pincers – with Georgia and Virginia actively collaborating to undercut its already-waning competitiveness. In fact Georgia port officials referenced this collaboration in touting their recent success.
“As our ports continue to experience record growth, it is more important than ever that Georgia and other gateway hubs begin to plan regionally for the future,” Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) chairman Jimmy Allgood said in a statement. “Cooperation between ports, with an eye toward maintaining world-class service, is a necessary part of today’s marketplace. As gateways to global commerce for the U.S. East Coast, the ports of Georgia and Virginia are critical links to the nation’s economy.”
In addition to Georgia and Virginia’s collaboration, port expansion plans in Savannah were included on U.S. president Donald Trump’s list of priority infrastructure projects. Charleston’s proposed harbor deepening – which as we’ve previously pointed out is of dubious benefit – didn’t make the cut.
Already struggling to compete with Georgia, the Palmetto State took a major step back under former governor Nikki Haley – whose infamous “Savannah River Sellout” shamelessly betrayed the economic interests of her home state in order advance her political career. Haley’s betrayal put the port of Charleston in a huge hole … and effectively killed plans for a deepwater port in Jasper County, S.C.
Recent squabbling on the part of SCSPA leaders doesn’t bode well for a return to competitiveness, either.
What should be done here? If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Government should have no business whatsoever in the management of port infrastructure. Especially not a government as demonstrably incompetent as South Carolina’s state government (see here, here and here).
“As we’ve been saying for years, we have no problem with taxpayers owning vital infrastructure assets like port terminals, cranes, etc.,” we wrote last month. “Our problem? Letting politicians and political appointees manage these assets.”
Indeed. The SCSPA needs to be devolved and its management of these state-owned assets turned over to the private sector. Failure to do so will result in the continued squandering of the Palmetto State’s most vital competitive gifts.
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