RTA cautions DP on fatigue

RTA weighs into issues at Port Botany, reminding DP World of its obligations under chain of responsibility law

By Rob McKay | November 15, 2010

Disruption at DP World’s Port Botany terminal remained significant over the weekend due to a computer system upgrade, but another issue has emerged in sharper definition.

The NSW branch of the Australian Trucking Association raised fatigue management as a problem last week and the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has warned that delays could raise chain of responsibility laws issues for the stevedore.

"Chain of responsibility legislation recognises that the actions, inactions and demands of off road parties in the supply chain can have a huge impact on heavy vehicle safety," an RTA spokeswoman says.

"The chain of responsibility means that anybody, not just the driver and operator, who has control in a transport operation can be held responsible for breaches of road laws and may be legally liable.

"If you use road transport as part of your business, you share responsibility for ensuring breaches of road laws do not occur.

"If the delays to heavy vehicles currently experienced at Port Botany are well known to the industry, it is reasonable for those in control of the transport operation to factor the delays into the driver’s time to avoid driver fatigue or breach of work or rest hour options."

Delays at the terminal ranged from two to four hours on Saturday and one to four hours on Sunday, while today it was in the range of two to three hours.

Meanwhile, the ATA NSW has sought financial redress from the stevedore for road carriers.

"While we head into the second week, this problem is costing the transport industry millions of dollars to continue running as we are," ATA NSW Container Committee Chairman Mike Moylan wrote to new DP World Sydney General Manager Richard Johstone.

The ATA met with DP World last Thursday, and while it has been assured the stevedore is working to rectify the problems Moylan says truckers are losing money at a time when they should be making it.

"The best we have had so far from DP World is that they will look at storage and penalty costs on a case by case basis. None of this is good enough, carriers are incurring storage because they can’t get containers out in time because they can’t get timeslots," Moylan says.

"It is time for DP World to start implementing plans to move complete vessels to Patrick or to other ports or move containers out of the terminal in bulk by road or rail to other locations."

Moylan says DP World must also shoulder a share of the costs being borne by the transport industry due to the computer glitches.

"It is definitely not OK for DP World to keep watching their own bottom line while they wreak havoc on the rest of the supply chain it is four days since the meeting and little if any has changed on the service delivery to the landside."

The ATA NSW also wants DP World to give a clearer indication of what is needed from drivers during the delays.

Moylan says drivers are currently be asked to take delivery orders and pine numbers to the terminal to be manually processed, leading to confusion.

"Carriers are unsure as to whether they should be transpondering (paperless processing) each shipment and continuing to bring documents or not bother with paperless, carriers need some clear direction on these matters," he says.

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