Three questions: Michael Heinz
“The Rhine is running out of water” is how newspapers described the situation in the fall of 2018. The extremely low water levels had clear consequences, not only for inland waterway transportation, but also for many companies based along the Rhine. How dependent are companies like BASF on the Rhine and what requirements must be met to ensure ships can traverse it in the future? Online Reporter talked to site director and member of the Board of Executive Directors Michael Heinz.
1865, when BASF was founded, its location on the Rhine was not chosen on a whim. However, over the ensuing 150 years, the world of logistics has changed dramatically. How dependent on the Rhine are companies like BASF nowadays?
Low water levels are definitely an issue when it comes to the Rhine. What else will we have to deal with in the future?
What is required for this?
From a BASF standpoint, it is vital to quickly implement the project named “Safeguarding the navigability of the Rhine from Basel to Rotterdam”. The project has the objective of extending the depth of the shipping lane between Mainz and St. Goar from 1.9 m to 2.1 m, a goal which will be achieved not by digging a deeper lane, but by naturally restricting its width. This means that a lot more goods can be transported via inland waterways, a solution which makes sense from both an economic and ecological standpoint. The project has been approved and is to be implemented by the Waterways and Shipping Office (WSA) by 2030. However, the project is already experiencing delays, as the WSA does not have enough staff, which is why the government needs to step in. Our demand: The WSA needs to be better equipped. In addition, more financial resources need to be provided for the restoration of bridges and hydraulic structures, while project planning also needs to be improved: We need investment planning with clear goals for transportation policies, a type of overarching concept for transportation policies. The focus here should be to use digitalization to intelligently link transport options and further optimize them.