Pedro Suárez has returned to a house he knows, the Port Authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which he presided between September 2018 and October 2019. And he has done so by opening windows to the sea, but also doors to institutions such as the capital’s City Council, the Council and the Government with the objective that the Port and City navigate in the same direction.
-What is your assessment of the first 100 days at the head of the Port Authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife?
“The balance is positive. I have had meetings with almost all the institutions that I want to collaborate with the Port and vice versa, although the closest ones have been with the town councils of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Santa Cruz de La Palma, where we have the busiest ports. Meetings aimed at reactivating the port and city relationship, since there are currently several important open projects and a roadmap has been established to work together. On the other hand, I have maintained contact with the port community and have dedicated myself to solving problems that needed an urgent solution. In addition to the support at fairs for our companies in matters of ship repair, recruitment of cruise ships or the consolidation of the cruise market thanks to the creation of an association between the Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores and Cape Verde in order to sell our Macaronesia route. , since the challenge is to attract the summer market that we still need to cover.”
-There are several projects underway in this desire to open the city to the sea. How are the negotiations going?
“I am lucky that dealing with both the Government and the Council and the City Council means doing so with people who think like me. And one of the great projects is the construction of the Muelle del Enlace building, a project that has been forgotten in time despite the fact that it was a comprehensive remodeling competition for the Plaza de España that, together with access to the port, seeks to open the city to the sea. Now we are all aligned is to extrapolate a successful case of institutional collaboration, such as that of Valleseco beach, a file that began in the mandate in which I was in charge of the Port Authority and that is a reality today. Therefore, I believe this future building will be feasible in a reasonable period of time because all the institutions are aligned.”
-And what will become of the Puerto-Ciudad building once the new one is built?
“Once we have the project, which will not be done in a year, we will have to reorganize the entire port area and there we will see what use we give to the current Port-City station, for which we will obviously have to find other uses. Right now it is serving as a ferry terminal, but in the new building there will be a station for both ferries and cruise ships. We must clarify that there are not enough spaces in the port and when we have defined the entire project and know the deadlines for the work, this issue will be raised.”
-What will this future reorganization of the Port consist of?
“We are currently working on the reorganization of the entire port area, where we must make substantial changes so that the companies that operate make their investments with legal certainty, since now they are made with authorizations and what we want is for them to be able to make investments that they can recover. in the time”.
-Will it also affect the activity of the docks?
The Port is going to undergo a complete remodeling, also of the docking part, although I cannot say much more yet because everything is on the table. We are reorganizing and talking to those interested, who are in line with what we think. It will be a great project that will be seen in this mandate, although other larger projects, such as the Link Dock building, will not be completed, but they will have a project and guaranteed financing.”
-The capital City Council has asked you to transfer the esplanade in front of the Town Hall as a parking and concert area. Is there progress?
“I have already informed the mayor and the first deputy mayor that the Port has no problem giving up this space. What’s more, we are already working with the City Council to transfer part of said esplanade to convert it into a permanent parking lot. Traditionally, it is given to the capital as car parks to facilitate shopping, so from these dates it will continue to be open to the city, once the Christmas concert is held. There is good will on the part of both institutions and if at any specific time the Port needs that space there is a guarantee that it would be returned to us. It will be shared use because we must give the city something in return for the inconvenience we caused and that we are also trying to solve.”
-In what sense will those inconveniences you allude to be compensated?
“The complaints we receive focus on the noise of ships that do not turn off their engines at night, obviously because they have to maintain a series of internal infrastructures and are powered by the ship’s own engine. But today we are electrifying that entire area with the aim that when the ship arrives it will plug into the grid and not need to start engines, which will also help reduce the carbon footprint. In addition, we have many plans for noise reduction in order to combine the rest of the neighbors with the port industrial activity.”
-The Port has just been awarded for its sustainability. Is it the line to follow?
“We have received two awards in terms of sustainability, one at a global level and another at a European level, thanks to two sustainable projects, as we have been pioneers in the installation of electricity hookups on ships and many more actions focused on clean energy. If the year 2030 is the required date to reduce the carbon footprint, we are going to go ahead to 2027. However, the handicap is that the port’s electricity consumption is increasing greatly and I hope that the Government, which is already aware of the deficiencies we have in energy matters, solve this problem.”
-And speaking of sustainability, the City Council wants to expand the bike lane to Las Teresitas. Is there an agreement?
“In the first Port-City commission, held after many years, both parties presented our respective demands. The City Council requested the extension of the bike lane to Las Teresitas, and in different sections we have already authorized it, even with the granting of spaces to locate viewpoints. The City Council urgently needs to materialize this project and it is good for us to promote the Port as a cruise destination. The construction of the lane is subject to compliance with European funds and therefore it was very necessary to clear up the issue. Even so, we are going to continue working on different sections that technically need another solution, but a large part of the bike lane is already authorized and will materialize in a short time.”
-What sections are you referring to that need another solution?
“The San Andrés highway, from Paso Alto almost to Las Teresitas, is a port highway, that is, the maintenance of that highway corresponds to us. And it is one of the things that we discuss with the City Council, because really the use of this road is already more of the city’s responsibility and should be managed by the city.”
-Cabo Llanos will be another window to the sea once the Refinery is dismantled. What plans are there?
“The City Council is drafting a preliminary project to agree on what we can do in this area and I believe that a spectacular and very important work for Santa Cruz could emerge that would cover the entire back part of the Palmetum. “We are working to make it viable and improve this space that already belongs to the city, except for the Hondura dock, which we will give to some other use.”
-They want to create a beach next to the Maritime Park. Is there an agreement?
“The beach is already there, except for some pending problems. Actually the entire Maritime Park is a joint City Council-Port company, because at the time it was all a port area, but now for legal reasons, fundamentally, we are going to leave it and transfer our shares to the City Council with the aim of managing it in its entirety. The Port is dedicated to the port industry and not to managing swimming pools, therefore it is logical that we give these lands to the city.”
-Another part of the Port is the cruise ships. Will the scales increase?
“We are growing in the number of cruises and not only boats, but cruise passengers, since we already have a consolidated winter market and we are working so that companies use us as a base port. Furthermore, today crew changes are made in our territory, because the connectivity we have is much better than that of our partners, which is an added value for the entire economy that lives around cruise ships. On the other hand, companies are discovering Macaronesia as a safe destination and we offer good facilities and services.”
-And is sports sailing being taken into account?
“This issue was abandoned due to the lack of berthing supply that we have and now we are considering putting out to tender a new Marina in the South Dock that would make up for this lack. It would be a project aimed at attracting mega yachts, although to do so it is necessary to reorganize the area and recover spaces for this larger cruise market. I think that capturing that market would be very important for the Port once the spaces have been organized and be able to offer appropriate services from naval repair to leisure, as well as making good docks.”
-How do you see the future of the Port?
Fantastically good. We are going to gain a new space after the reorganization of the Port of Granadilla, where the energy hub will be located, allowing the docking of cargo ships, gas tankers, oil tankers, etc., which will turn it into a great enclave for ships to make their water using our service as a large Atlantic gas station. This will free up areas in the Port of Santa Cruz that, within the future reorganization, will see its facilities improved to transform it into more commercial and friendly to the city, that is, a port that we Santa Cruzans are proud of.”