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Counteracting myths regarding Oder has started

A barge set out from the Szczecin port under a project of ‘Our Oder!’. The cruise of ‘Counteracting myths regarding Oder’ started with a conference held in Szczecin on 24 September. The conference attracted representatives of the Regional Government, Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority, Czech business and a research company which intends to register the cruise and then present findings at the end of the cruise. The distance from Szczecin to the port of Koźle will be covered by the barge within a week, so on 1 October, in Kędzierzyn-Koźle, findings of the research will be discussed together with conclusions as a part of the final conference. The organizer of the cruise is the Association for the Development of Inland Shipping and Waterways - the ‘Council of Inland Shipping Masters’.

The cruise is a part of a research project designed to present possibilities for expanding the offer of inland transport and changing the orientation towards water transport logistics. For this reason, the barge carries two layers of containers that can be used for transporting containerized cargo via the Oder. The barge remains under water ballast corresponding to the actual load. It has been also fitted with measuring equipment to help documenting the route. This should convince participants and clear their doubts regarding conditions and myths for freight transport along the Oder.

Beneficiaries of the initiative come from Poland and abroad, including three Oder regions situated in Poland, Czech Republic and Germany, and representatives of business and science and research communities, as well as administration and inhabitants of the international Oder strip. Czech partners have recognized the need to regulate a stretch of the Oder river from the border to Kędzierzyn-Koźle, to integrate it within the Trans-European Network of Transport. Czech companies could send their goods through ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście and further to the sea using barges. The same applies to Germans who have already undertaken a number of investment projects aimed at improving navigability of the Oder. These include the building of a new vessel lift in Niederfinow, to be completed in 2017.
Already today, the Ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście are the only Polish ports with the access to inland waterways. Inland shipping is recognized by the European Union as the most environmentally friendly. The access to the system of inland waterways of Western Europe is particularly important for servicing the German market. Through ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście, barge transit reaches directly a large number of major economic centers of Berlin and Brandenburg.

Improving navigability of Oder on its other stretches will certainly provide an additional opportunity for the development of the two ports, chiefly thanks to the fact that ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście are located within the north-south transport corridor. For this reason, for many years now, the Board of the Szczecin and Świnoujście Seaports Authority has been involved in various initiatives highlighting the necessity of certain measures improving the condition of roads, railway lines and waterways along the Oder. These include the improvement of navigability of the Oder and promoting international effort to develop a canal of Oder-Danube-Elbe, modernizing the Oder railway line, completing the project of S3 expressway all the way to the border with the Czech Republic,  dredging of the Szczecin fairway to 12.5m, implementing the Oder 2006 Programme and reaching class 4 of navigability on the Oder. For ports of Szczecin and Świnoujście, all modes of transport, including  rail, road and water, provide an opportunity to attract cargo and strengthen their position of a universal port on the Baltic Sea.

Apart from the activities mentioned above, it is necessary that all regions along the Oder route combine their resources. Only joint initiatives can ensure sustainable development of the Oder route. The cruise from Szczecin to Koźle is to be yet another example of the above.