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Sydney experiencing empty container congestion

Enterprise

The Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) says empty shipping container congestion has spiked again in Sydney recently, leaving importers and their transport providers incurring added costs.

It notes that some of these added costs are empty de-hire delays, yard storage of empties, futile truck trips, and additional administration.

“The empty container chain in NSW is unfortunately broken,” Neil Chambers, CTAA Director, says.

“It takes only slightly higher import volumes, caused in large part by off-window vessel arrivals and bunching, and larger container exchanges from those vessels, coupled with delays due to weather events or other issues impacting on ECP capacity, and the system becomes chaotic and unsustainable,” he adds.

The CTAA says the congestion and delays come off the back of a relatively positive month in June when more than 80,000 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEU) of empties were evacuated by shipping lines through Port Botany, with a load/discharge ratio of 1.07.

It adds that since then, weather events in Sydney have led to unforeseen reductions in the movement of empty containers away from Port Botany, leaving the main Empty Container Parks (ECPs) at or near capacity.

The ECPS have not been able to accept additional empty equipment for their client shipping lines and are asking importers/transport operators to contact shipping lines for de-hire alternatives, which are not forthcoming.

“Trucks are literally driving from ECP to ECP looking for a de-hire location, only to be told by ECP operations staff that they aren’t accepting that equipment anymore due to capacity constraints, or that a redirection has been notified,” Neil says.

“This is despite the transport operator having a valid Notification Window slot booking through the Containerchain truck-arrival notification system, which aren’t being accepted in good faith,” he adds.

Many transport operators have needed to implement additional fees with their customers to recoup the added costs of empty container handling, yard storage delays, and futile truck trips.

Also, transport operators have revisited their terms and conditions requiring their import customers to provide sufficient business-days’ notice of empty container availability for de-hire, and clauses regarding any acceptance of container detention liability in the current circumstances.

For more information on the Container Transport Alliance Australia, click here.

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