CTAA brings terminal access concerns to the fore

Onerous access conditions raise container transporters' ire

CTAA brings terminal access concerns to the fore
CTAA has decried the actions of a number of stevedores


Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) reports it has been addressing numerous concerns from transport operators relating to terminal access conditions imposed by container stevedores.

Its first apprehension lies with DP World Australia (DPWA), where it has "grave concerns" over terms in the National Terminal Carrier Access Agreement that limit liability for damage to transport equipment to $15,000 per single event or occurrence.

"A request for a reconsideration of the limit level has been rejected by DPWA," CTAA says.

"In contrast, the liability cap set by Patrick Terminals for damage or loss to transport equipment is $100,000, while Hutchison Ports Australia and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) do not specify liability caps."

Because transport carriers are "forced" to accept the standard form Access Agreement if they want to continue to trade with DPWA (or risk being suspended or terminated from terminal entry), the clause has the effect of reducing the subrogation rights of transport operators’ insurance underwriters to pursue DPWA for unrecovered damages to transport equipment, CTAA notes.

"This can leave transport operators extremely exposed to having to bear considerable losses, and higher insurance premiums.

"Of course though, DPWA terminals are "monopolies" at the time when the transport operator needs to either pick up an import container or drop off an export container, so interaction with the terminal is unavoidable.

"Perhaps it’s high time for transport operators across Australia to implement changes to their container cartage rates to take account of the higher costs and risks associated with doing business with DPWA terminals?"

DPWA has also sought personal credit guarantees from transport company directors, despite many transport companies have long-standing and exceptional credit histories with DPWA, CTAA says.

Read about union industrial action taking place at DPWA, here

CTAA has also taken umbrage with Hutchison Ports Australia (HPA) over payment terms.

"In early July, Hutchison Ports Australia unilaterally announced that payment terms for transport operators with accounts for access to HPA Sydney and Brisbane Terminals would be seven days, with the added 'threat' that transport operators needed to 'make sure payment (is) made within the term, or you will be disconnected in the following week'.

"Given the lack of consultation, no notice, and extremely poor industry communication methods used to convey the unilateral decision, some transport companies have found their accounts suspended by HPA, leading to the inability to book container slots at the terminals.

"CTAA alliance companies totally reject this unilateral and draconian action by HPA.

"CTAA is pursuing HPA seeking amendment to the payment terms, and to ensure that future proposed changes of this nature, as well as terminal access terms and conditions and pricing amendments, are discussed with the container logistics sector before implementation."

CTAA says it will highlight the situation to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) unless HPA agrees to amend its terms.

The association also notes it has had several examples drawn to its attention of stevedores terminating or suspending transport operator accounts without adequate consultation.

"[There] are instances where the stevedores are being quick to 'pull the trigger' on account suspension or termination without what could be considered by a reasonable person to be adequate attempts to resolve the issues with the transport operator amicably."


In more positive developments, the CTAA, alongside the Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA) and Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA) welcomed funding under the Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative (HVSI) program to address heavy vehicle safety concerns caused by the unsafe loading and cargo restraint inside international shipping containers.

The funding will allow FTA, APSA and CTAA to collaborate with all parties in the container logistics chain to develop guidance materials, online training initiatives, and face-to-face forums to promote best practice in shipping container packing, cargo load restraint and weight distribution.

"Cargo inside shipping containers that is inappropriately packed, poorly restrained and/or unevenly weight distributed can cause serious heavy vehicle road safety issues. This includes the heightened risk of truck rollovers, load shifts contributing to road accidents, and heavy vehicle axle mass breaches. Additionally, these issues can have a big impact on the safety of workers engaged in loading or unloading shipping containers," CTAA chief Neil Chambers says.

"These guidance materials and initiatives will assist importers to engage with their suppliers and packers overseas, and for exporters to review their packing and transport practices, to improve safety compliance," FTA director Travis Brooks-Garrett adds.


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