Advantages and disadvantages of water transport

Advantages and Disadvantages of Water Transport

The water transport can move people ( passengers ) or things ( charges solid, liquid or gaseous) by sea from one geographical location to another on board a ship .

 Unloading of a container ship in the largest port of India, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, in Navi Mumbai, in the Arabian Sea.

Maritime transport, in the world, is the most used mode of international trade. It is the one that supports the greater movement of merchandise, both in containers, as dry or liquid bulk.

Taking into account that the planet Earth is covered by water in its two thirds, man has sought ways to travel on water. Thus water has joined different parts of the globe because the ships sail through them.

The transport of people by sea has lost much of its importance due to the development of commercial aviation. Significantly subsists only in two areas: short crossings (small distances between islands or two banks of a river) and tourist cruises.

The maritime transport is by its own international nature, although cabotage exists along the coasts of a country. So what are their advantage and disadvantages we will take a look at this in this article?

Advantages of water transport

Although the advantages may depend on the product that is decided to transport, we observe how there are a series of characteristics common to all the products. We expose them below:

  • Volume and storage capacity of ships: ships or ships are the means of transport that offer greater capacity when moving more quantity of materials. Especially in comparison with other means of transport such as train, truck or plane.
  • More competitive freights: maritime freights are generally very competitive and economical. The only difficulty that could be observed regarding this reason is the additional charges (such as fuel). Even with this small note, we can see how it continues to be the most economical means when traveling long distances.
  • Safety and stability: weather and weather conditions delay the departure or arrival of an aircraft in a greater number of occasions, while thanks to the robustness, resistance, and reliability of ships, these can be handled more easily in more complicated or unstable environments (always within reasonable limits logically).
  • More variety of products and transportable materials: considered as one of the most noteworthy elements we can observe how, unlike what happens in air transport (where, in most cases, liquid or dangerous cargo is not allowed), Ability to transport all types of materials, this being the only option in the case of oil, liquids and dangerous items that airplanes prevent transport. If the land transport can load goods of this type, it cannot take them in case of intercontinental transport.
  • Coverage and insurance: thanks to the fact that almost ¾ parts of the land are covered with water the level of reach of this medium is almost absolute. It is also worth noting the fact that it is a very safe means since almost all deliveries are made in a timely manner.
  • low capital investment for the development of the maritime transport infrastructure (the sea routes of communication do not require significant investments in their creation and maintenance, except for the canals)
  • Better for the environment if we are looking at a green environment of the least CO2 emissions water transport will win the race, they generally have a smaller carbon fingerprint. The is an except if you put oil spill into the analogy.
  • No need for expensive infrastructure to facilitate ships.
  • Different models of ships that adapt to all types of transport. This offers a great capacity of flexibility to adapt to any type of bulk or general cargo. In fact, it is the means to transport a greater variety of products, including specific and dangerous materials, such as oils or petroleum.

Disadvantages of water transport

  • The paperwork is relatively extensive/complicated, even when the services of customs agents are acquired, the work and the number of permits and forms are superior to any other means (air/land).
  • Time: this factor must also be taken into account when forecasting delivery dates since the time required – especially over long distances – is generally higher than air/land transport.
  • Reliability even though air and land transport can be delayed due to weather conditions they still tend to outrun water transport in arriving on schedule.One to two days delay might not seem to be too much but it can affect a business that needs restocking of goods or have a customer waiting on them resulting in loss of business.
  • The accessibility of the ports, in some cases the ports are not suitable to receive cargo ships, which causes logistical problems in terms of disembarkation. All the ships need ports and infrastructures according to the needs and the size of the boats, in some countries we do not find this type of structures, which causes that the delivery is not direct.
  • The frequency of the journeys, this can cause delays in the deliveries or deviations of the same, although some journeys are more commercial than others and are usually done regularly, others may take much longer to leave. And the boats have a time of preparation greater than that of the aircraft, trucks or trains.


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