Aerial view of Newcastle Port.
Cargo throughput volumes at NSW ports have showed strong growth in the 2007-08 fiscal year, Port Minister Joe Tripodi has announced.
Port Botany has recorded its seventh consecutive year of growth, with the rate of container movement increasing nearly 10 per cent to over 1.78 million TEU during the period.
“While trade in containerised goods is increasing, so is that of bulk liquids and gases. This trade increased by 18.1 per cent over last year,” Mr Tripodi said.
“The future of trade through Sydney’s ports is in containerised trade and bulk liquids, which is why we have started construction of a five-berth expansion of Port Botany and have approved plans for a new bulk liquids berth to cater for this growth.”
The $1 billion port expansion project underway is expected to double its capacity from 2010.
According to Mr Tripodi, Newcastle Port also showed robust performance in cargo throughput, with imports and exports passing through the port increasing by 7.7 million tonnes to 93 million tonnes, worth over $10 billion.
The increased result came despite the impact of chronic drought on the grain transport market, with coal continuing to be the port’s main export.
“Rural drought conditions have significantly impacted on grain movements through Newcastle for the past few years, but this was offset slightly this year by import of fertiliser products,” he said.
Along with these two ports, Port Kembla recorded positive grains throughput.
Port Kembla will soon become the state’s vehicle importing hub after the relocation of car import facilities from Sydney’s Glebe Island.
Road and rail transport operators have warned the Sydney Ports Corporation that many will go out of business and Christmas goods destined for Sydney stores will not get delivered in time, unless immediate productivity increases are made by the two stevedores.
The Sydney Port Corporation held an information session yesterday to update industry on the proposed landside productivity improvements. While the presentations gave a high-level overview of planned action to improve access and productivity in the medium to long term, there was no immediate relief for long-suffering transport operators.
Horror stories told by representatives of container cartage operators told of trucks taking up to five hours to pick up import containers, with the stevedores lacking information and relying on truck drivers to give them the missing details.
Others told of instances where the stevedores closed their gates at 2 pm sharp on Saturdays, notwithstanding trucks with valid slots still waiting outside. “We had booked the slots on the VBS as required,” one operator told T&Lnews. “their equipment breaks down or they have a staff shortage and are slow to load the containers, but they make us bear the cost of it – they go home and to hell with the trucks still waiting!”
Many operators expressed the concern that the reduced productivity is causing them to lose money and be forced out of business, and that containers arriving during the current Christmas rush will not be delivered to stores in time.
Some rail operators are equally affected. A company spokesperson who did not wish to be named, said his trains take, on average, 10 hours for the return trip from suburban Sydney to Botany. “The best we ever had was eight hours, but often it takes a whole day,” he said. “We have to change crews on the track because they run out of working hours.
“It takes 15 minutes to shunt in and another 15 to shunt out of the stevedores’ sidings. We only have a one-hour window, but they take the shunting time off that. They go to lunch early, and return late, but they take that off, too, from our time. When the time’s up, we have to leave – every single day we are forced to leave containers behind.”
He said the stevedores’ productivity is less than half of what they achieve every day in their own yard.
The Sydney Ports Corporation representative attempted to reassure operators that new KPIs and penalties will be incorporated into the stevedores’ leases, however, this will not have an effect for many months. The peak period surcharge mooted by ports minister Joe Tripodi will not be in place until at least the end of the current financial year.
Five stevedoring groups have entered a bidding war over the third container terminal at Port Botany.
Sydney Ports Corporation has announced that five stevedoring companies have been invited to tender to operate the third container terminal at Port Botany.
The company’s CEO Grant Gilfillan said the invitation was the second part of a two-stage process for choosing the terminal operator for the Port Botany expansion project.
A total of 13 groups expressed interest in operating the terminal, responding to the call for expressions of interest due on September 1.
“The healthy response indicates there is strong industry confidence in the long-term commercial viability of Sydney’s container port,” Mr Gilfillan said.
The company asked the applicants to provide information concerning their financial and resource capacity, container terminal expertise and experience, as well as capacity to resource and manage the new terminal.
Ports Minister Joe Tripodi said bids would entail fixed and variable rental elements, and a level of investment and intended work volumes.
Mr Gilfillan said the shortlisted groups included domestic and international operators, without revealing their names.
“We regard the process as commercially confidential and will not be announcing the names of those who have been invited to tender.
“We expect the stevedore to be chosen by mid-2009, with the first berths available for trade from 2012,” he said.
It is speculated among the contenders were Patrick, DP World, Hong Kong-based Hutchison Port Holdings and the Singapore Ports Authority. Former Patrick chief Chris Corrigan was also reported to have expressed interest.
It is expected the selected operator will inject around $350 million into new facilities, with initial expenditure on gantries of about $150 million.
International stevedores are expected to line up to win the rights to operate Port Botany’s third terminal.
The NSW Government has called for expressions of interest for port operators to take charge of the third terminal, which will start handling shipments from 2012.
As part of the Government’s $1 billion Port Botany exapnsion project, construction work on the third terminal will commence before the end of this year, with the successful bidder to be announced early next year.
Ports minister Joe Tripodi said: “This is an exciting development for the economy. It will deliver 9,000 new jobs to NSW and boost the state’s economy by $16 billion in the next 20 years.”
He said bids for the right to operate the terminal will entail a fixed and variable rental element as well as a level of investment and intended work volumes.
Among the potential bidders are the Hong Kong-based Hutchinson Ports, the Singapore Port Authority, and Anglo Ports. Local contenders are also expected, including former CEO of Patrick Corp Chris Corrigan.
While the expression of interest process is open to all stevedores, the key factors are likely to include maintaining a level of competitive tension with the existing operators.
It is expected the chosen operator will inject around $350 million for new facilities, with initial expenditure on gantries of about $150 million.