Port users required a number of qualities in a sea port, namely: no port congestion and thus no congestion surcharges; adequate berth, handling and storage facilities; facilities adapted to modern shipping and handling technology; minimal loss to cargo through losses, damage and deterioration; rapid transit through the port; and reasonable charges for the services provided.
Many ships spend over 50% of their operational time in ports and, for liner shipping, port costs represent some two-thirds of the total cost of sea transport. Thus, conditions in port have a profound impact on the efficiency of maritime transport. Whereas shippers can often choose between different shipping services, they are generally obliged to use a particular port and are therefore at the mercy of its efficiency. When such a port lacks adequate facilities, trade can ultimately be stifled.