Juan José Cardona was named president of the Port Authority of Las Palmas in the middle of last May. Since then, he has not stopped meeting with the different members of the port community to learn first-hand what the reality is and what the needs are of each one of its members.
Cardona was mayor of the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria from 2011 to 2015, a position that he made compatible with that of councillor for Casa Africa, president of the Biodiversity Cities Network or president of the Euro-African Institute for Governance Association, among others. From 2015 to May 2018 he was a councillor and spokesman for the People’s Municipal Group in the City Hall of the Gran Canaria capital.
In this interview, the president, already elect, of the Port Authority of Las Palmas takes stock of his first months in office and reflects on some of his main challenges.
You have been at the head of the Port Authority of Las Palmas for a little over four months, what balance do you make about this management period?
They have been very intense months. On one hand I have tried to update myself on the entire reality of our ports while also getting to know what the great challenges and great aims and needs are which I can contribute with from Presidency.
What are the strengths of the Port of Las Palmas and what projects do you think should be promoted?
I think that the main strength of the Port of Las Palmas is given by its multi-specialisation. Unlike other ports that have one sole main activity, we can say with satisfaction that there are several activities that characterise our offer: not only in the traffic and transport of conventional merchandise but also in the cruise sector where we are one of the most important ports in the world. Also in container traffic, with a high number of containers in transit. The same can be said of bunkering, a very strong sector in which we are national leaders or in the naval repairs sector, which is one of the most important parts of our port offer.
Right now, which projects have more priority on the table?
I always say that we have to manage the present and design the future. In that sense, my objective should be to work in different areas: on the one hand to modernise and make the whole organisation of the Port Authority more efficient and, on the other, to achieve better involvement of the port community, strengthening and designing a consensual commercial strategy with all the operators to sell our ports abroad, expecting to prepare this port community by advancing innovations, in technology and environmental matters, to be ready for the digital revolution.
Has the 4.0 revolution arrived at the Ports of Las Palmas?
You never know when one stage finishes and a new one starts. We have to be able to move from analogue ports to technological and digital ports. It is not enough to have technological capability but also have a port community willing to share information in a collaborative economy, so that it contributes to make better decisions for the future. Every day new challenges arise which we have to face with the ability to adapt.
Can we say that the Port of Las Palmas is on its way to becoming a Smart Port?
I believe that any port that takes pride in itself and has a leadership position as is the case of the Ports of Las Palmas has to be aware that it either has to incorporate the digital culture of smart port and green port or it really will be headed towards losing that competitivity and that leadership that characterises it. That is why we -the Ports of Las Palmas and the entire port community- are working with great determination to welcome all these technological changes and prepare ourselves for that collaborative economy to be imposed.
You have spoken on other occasions about the need to agree on a commercial axis with the port community when promoting the Ports of Las Palmas abroad. Has anything progressed at this point?
In these very coming few days, we will introduce the brand Las Palmas Port to the port community, to position and reinforce the position of our ports in the international market with a communication campaign. As I mentioned before, the entire promotion strategy of the Ports has to be done in a consented manner with the port community. The Port Authority can not go one way and its community the other.
When will LNG be able to be offered in the Ports of Las Palmas?
We will be able to offer it when the demand begins to ask for it. It is not a about arriving beforehand, but about arriving on time and in that sense I am sure that in 2020 the Port of Las Palmas will have the possibility to supply liquefied natural gas, among other things because our clients are going to demand it.
What is the purpose of an event such as the Mid Atlantic Ship Repair & Supply Summit and what does it contribute to the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria?
The aim is to consolidate our leadership position in the field of repair in general and off shore repair in particular. And the contribution to the city is very positive from all points of view since we are talking about the important diversification of our port economy. This event will be a great support to the strategy that for many years has been developing the naval repair sector in our Port. We can not forget that our first famous client in naval repair was Christopher Columbus and that is something that gives us character. The history of our Port has always been characterised by permanent innovation and, in this sense, the naval repair companies have been a magnificent example of how to adapt to the new challenges and demands of the future.Tags: Autoridad Portuaria de Las Palmas, Juan José Cardona