Search for weighbridge options at Port Botany

Gay gives more time as industry claims RTA initiative is misconceived and under-analysed

By Rob McKay | June 28, 2011

The NSW trucking and freight forwarding sectors have welcomed Roads and Waterways Minister Duncan Gay’s three-month moratorium on forcing Port Botany stevedores to put weighbridges in terminals.

The extra time is to be used to look at alternatives for tackling the problem of overweight containers.

But the sectors, backed by shipowner lobby Shipping Australia, warn that the Roads and Traffic Authority’s (RTA) weighbridge idea as it stands ignores the implications for the rest of the container supply chain in and around Sydney.

The RTA issued improvement notices last year on Patrick and DP World to effectively force them to install weighbridges for trucks exiting terminals.

A spokeswoman for Patrick says the stevedore has no option but to comply.

"Patrick is working with the industry to examine a range of options to ensure that it’s Port Botany landside operation complies with the notice issued by the RTA under Chain of Responsibility legislation," the spokeswoamn says.

"This notice was recently extended to enable all parties to come together and work to achieve an efficient solution.

"This extension will expire on September 30".

According to minutes of recent Sydney Ports Cargo Facilitation Committee (SPCFC) meetings, DP World proposes to use two above-ground weighbridges positioned at their terminal exit gate.

Patrick is considering four weigh-in-motion (WIM) scales set back from its terminal gate at the end of the truck grids.

Both will seek cost recovery from the industry.

ATA NSW has been particularly critical of the lack of research by the RTA into the initiative's effects on cost and efficiency.

"Our major concern is that the RTA improvement notices are focused on preventing overweight containers from leaving the terminals gates at all costs, without any regard for the consequences of this action," ATA NSW says in a circular to members released yesterday.

"While some (debatable) RTA data on weight breaches has been forthcoming (you may recall the RTA crackdown recently), there has been no research, analysis or costing on the impact of weighbridging containers in the terminals, particularly on how it will affect road transport operations.

"To date there has been no research on what happens in other Australian ports or overseas and no consultation with industry stakeholders, there has been nothing more than speculative guesswork on how long it will take to weigh a container.

"No solutions have been put forward to cover the myriad of issues that would result from the use of weighbridges at terminals e.g. who at the terminals issues instruction to drivers? What happens to substantial and severe axle and gross over loads? How are stack runs treated?"

ATA NSW points to Brisbane port’s Mass Import Management Scheme (MIMS)
that has been running for more than five years as one option that had not been explored.

SPCFC Chairman Hart Krtschil has noted, meanwhile, that Fremantle has a system where overweight containers are redirected to depots within the port limits.

The Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) also took the RTA to task on its fragmented approach to the issue, insisting that consultation was lacking.

Freight and Business Operations Manager Paul Zalai says the RTA "has not appropriately engaged with industry in its aim of addressing overweight containers.

"The RTA has focused on different sectors of the supply chain in isolation in conducting compliance activity and in issuing improvement notices.

"As a part of the ‘chain of responsibility’, the RTA will be forcing stevedores as ‘loaders’ to check that trucks are compliant in carrying loads (checking both gross and axle weights).

"The RTA have not prescribed how this outcome is to be achieved, resulting in a range of solutions being examined by stevedores.

"To the credit of the Minister for Roads and Waterways, his intervention at the most recent meeting [last Friday] has brought in a level of common sense to proceedings with extensions to weighbridge implementation being granted, examination of a holistic port solution and a need to consider export weighing in line with emerging international maritime requirements.

"To that end, discussion commenced at last week’s meeting that focused on the possibly of using a combination of stevedore ‘weigh in motion’ technologies to screen all vehicles with a secondary static weighbridge within the port precinct for those requiring further compliance assessment.

"Whilst conceptually this concept has merit, it also raises other operational concerns and questions.

"The Minister made it clear that whilst his granting of an extension to stevedores’ implementation of weighbridges was granted, he wanted stakeholders to work collaboratively, positively and in a timely manner to achieve a workable solution.

"It also became apparent during the course of the meeting that SPC will also be taking a greater leadership role in addressing an appropriate solution."

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