Categories: ESPO, EuropePublished On: 23.09.2019716 words3.6 min read

For this edition of our Port pro of the month, we are taking you to Malta. We are meeting Joseph Bugeja, who leads Transport Malta, the authority responsible for the regulation of all modes of transport in Malta, including ports. He has been heading Transport Malta since July 2018. Now, one year after his appointment, we thought it was a good time to have an interview with Joseph Bugeja.

On 5 July 2018, you were officially appointed as the new Chairman and CEO of Transport Malta. First of all, can you briefly explain Transport Malta and its role in the Maltese port landscape?

Transport Malta is the Authority responsible for the regulation of all modes of transport in Malta: land, aviation and maritime. As the national regulator of such a vital and challenging industry for an Island nation like Malta, the Authority is one of the most dynamic and “wide in scope” Government Authorities. Nonetheless, the Authority has registered constant growth and sets new records across all transport segments. At the same time, managing such a crucial industry for the country brings about daunting challenges that are constantly evolving.

If we were to focus on the maritime sector, the Malta Ship Register, the national shipping registry managed by Transport Malta, has grown not only in numbers but also in repute, and today the country is increasingly adding high-class ships to its fleet. Amongst the various factors attributable to such success, the good quality of the service provided could be mentioned, backed by various initiatives and strategies in favour of the industry that offer a holistic package recognised by ship owners worldwide. Within this scenario, blue chip companies are increasingly being attracted to the Malta Flag, consolidating further the registry’s stature as a true Flag of Confidence.

The opportunities that can be provided by Malta in this sector stem from the Islands’ rich maritime heritage with a cultural legacy intimately linked to the sea that is unique in the Mediterranean. This tradition has also transpired through Malta’s legal tradition in maritime affairs which contributed to the formulation of the Maltese initiative at the 1967 United Nations General Assembly that culminated in the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Malta’s natural, deep sheltered harbours and position on major shipping routes (indeed its geographical position places it a mere 6 nautical miles off the main Mediterranean sea-route between Gibraltar and the Suez Canal) have been mainly responsible for the country’s development as a maritime centre and established it as a major entry port for trade and bunkering stations.

The two main harbours in Malta are complimentary to each other, providing a wider variety of maritime related services. The Grand Harbour offers a comprehensive service covering practically all maritime requirements; a service that reflects the knowledge, commitment and attention that the Maltese maritime community is today well renowned for. The other main Port, Marsaxlokk, consists of the container terminal and industrial storage facilities which are operated by the Malta Freeport Terminals that, since its establishment in 1988, has registered remarkable growth and is now a leading maritime transshipment logistic hub, the third largest transshipment port in the Mediterranean region, enjoying positive international recognition with global carriers as a reliable and credible port.

How did you get into maritime transport? How did your career path lead to this position?

My 46-year career in the maritime and logistics sector started in the early 1970s at the time when Malta was moving away from being a military base, building its own economy and vying for industrial development opportunities. This is when the country was creating new employment opportunities and shifting from military shipping to commercial shipping. Obviously, ancillary activities like customs clearance, freight forwarding and logistics were amongst the first opportunities that were created. In fact, these sectors provided my first work experiences. In early 1974, Malta established its own National Shipping Company and I was one of the first people to join the newly setup company in April 1974. At that time, this was a golden opportunity as I got firsthand experience in the various operational and managerial aspects of the maritime sector including ship agency representation, cargo and passenger operations, bunker sales, regular liner service management and marketing & sales. . . . .

. . . . continue reading the interview on the ESPO website here