Ports impasse hitting transport hip pocket

CTAA sheds light on industrial disruption repercussions

Ports impasse hitting transport hip pocket
Neil Chambers


The ongoing industrial disruption at DP World terminals in Australia is having a ripple effect in the landside logistics sector, resulting in inefficiencies, delays and added costs, Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) advises.

CTAA director Neil Chambers voices his concern over the impacts on transport outfits, which have had to adapt their operations to accommodate the interruptions – but warns their resilience is being tested.

"Export container receivals for many vessels, as well as import availability dates, are a real moving feast at present," he says.

"DP World is constantly changing its vessel scheduling to work around the stoppages and other industrial actions being taken by their workers.

"Vessel delays caused in DPWA terminals are having a knock-on effect around the coast, with other stevedore terminals impacted too if they are handling those delayed vessels in the next or subsequent ports of call on the Australian coast.

"Container transport operators are having to be extremely adaptive in changing their transport fleet allocations, and staging containers through their yards to match. This comes at a significant added cost, which needs to be recouped from their customers."

CTAA is also railing against terminal access conditions imposed on transporters

Chambers quotes a transport executive who says transport companies have become the unpaid contractors of DP World and the other terminals impacted by the industrial actions.

He notes that, in Melbourne yesterday (29 July 2019), DP World closed off export receivals for two vessels prematurely, and has advertised that it will resume receiving export containers for those vessels this afternoon in the case of one vessel, and late on Wednesday, July 31 for the other.

The export receival schedules for another two other vessels have been postponed.

"The practical impact of these terminal schedule changes is that transport operators need to scramble with their export clients to hold back export logistics processes and stage containers through yards," he says.

"In the case of refrigerated cargo, this means storing the reefers on power, and finding reefer plug-in capacity if facilities are full.

"This has had a knock-on effect in other ports such as Brisbane, where Hutchison Ports has delayed export receivals due to the delayed forecast arrival of vessels such as occurred with the OOCL KUALA LUMPUR (A3S service) this week, and the XIN QING DAO (also the A3S service) over the coming days."

"These are just two examples where without the operational dexterity being displayed by road transport operators, the container logistics chain would collapse. But, this comes at a cost."

Chambers says in some cases transport operators have had to increase labour allocations on weekends and night shifts to keep pace with available terminal receival and delivery time slots.

"Transport operators need to talk to their clients about recouping these added costs under the current circumstances.

"If shippers are unhappy about these added costs, they should take the issue up with the shipping lines whose vessels are being severely disrupted by the ongoing industrial actions."


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