VTA continues war of words with SAL


VTA hits back at Shipping Australia over operating hours for empty container parks


By Rob McKay | December 22, 2010

The Victorian Transport Association has bit back in its war of words with container shipping peak body Shipping Australia (SAL) over the funds for empty container parks (ECP).

The argument centres on where the financial burden for longer operating hours should land, with each side believing the other should pay.

"The truth is that this is about shipping lines providing an adequate service to their clients – forwarders, importers and exporters – to allow their transport providers to pick up and de-hire empty containers across a reasonable spread of operating hours throughout the day," VTA Deputy CEO Neil Chambers says.

"This is a service that shipping lines should provide to their clients and the container transport chain generally."

Chambers discounted SAL CEO Llew Russell’s threat to refer comments urging the container lines to pay more collectively for longer opening hours to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

"The VTA has always maintained that the matter of payment of additional costs for extended operating hours was a matter for commercial negotiation between individual shipping lines and their contracted ECPs," Chambers says.

"However, we stand by our view that the posturing by SAL on this issue has been less than helpful and, indeed, has hindered those commercial negotiations."

He again pointed to time extensions in other ports that did not encounter SAL opposition.

"For example, the P&O Trans Australia ECP in Fremantle changed its operating hours in October 2010 to 6am to 6pm - the same as we are calling for in Melbourne," Chambers says.

"Also the P&O Trans Australia ECP in the Port of Brisbane is open 24 hours a day, while the Chalmers Brisbane Container Park has opening hours of 6am to 10.30pm.

"The truth is that the largest container Port in Australia, the Port of Melbourne, is serviced by ECPs with the shortest operating hours … and this has got to change."

The dispute between SAL and the VTA followed shipping line Maersk’s decision to trial extended opening times at the MRS container depot in Melbourne.

The Yarraville depot will open an extra three and a half hours Monday to Friday from January 17, with opening pulled back 90 minutes to 6am and closing to be two hours later at 6pm.

The trial extension is planned to run for six months during which time Maersk will monitor the use of the extended hours and periodic reviews will be held.


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