Sydney’s container congestion sparks anger

Sydney’s pile up of empties, sorely needed in China ports if liners would only take them there, are causing massive congestion in Botany Bay, reports Brisbane’s Australasian Transport News.

Most container parks are at full capacity, while several closed to import de-hires. Thus container management has reached a crisis point, says Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA).

“There’s an imbalance of over 30,000 TEU since April of imported containers compared to containers exported through Port Botany,” said CTAA director Neil Chambers.

“That’s over 30,000 TEU in the container logistics chain in NSW [New South Wales] that otherwise should have been re-shipped or re-used, but instead are piling up in container parks and transport yards,” he said.

CTAA claims of delays and congestion are questioning the container detention policies of the major shipping lines.

“Most shipping lines calculate the detention free-time from when the container is discharged from the vessel, which may not correspond to when the container is actually available,” said Mr Chambers.

All of which resulted in much anger at news that the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) is to levy a congestion surcharge of US$300 per TEU (twenty foot container) on all boxes going in or out.

Anger mounted when less than a week later French shipping giant CMA CGM piled on with a US$285 per TEU Emergency Port Congestion Surcharge for cargo in or out of Sydney.

Other lines have followed with recently Maersk announcing it has made the difficult decision to no longer take cargo bookings into and from Sydney.

Shipping lines also decry waterfront industrial disruption by dockers of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) industrial action is also impacting on container logistics.

The most obvious spark for the MSC move is the MUA’s protected industrial action against stevedore Patrick in Sydney but part of a national wage action.

The charge comes into effect for US import and export containers on October 8. For other regions, the charge came into affect on September 14.

After Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) raised the alarm on chaos affecting Sydney empties and called for more flexibility from international shipping on charges facing those trying to deal with container use and transport.

Exporters are now scrambling to move their cargo from another port. Major exporter of sheepmeet and grain, Fletcher International Exports, principal Roger Fletcher said the business was already being severely impacted by the disruption to the supply chain.

“It’s a mess in Botany,” Mr Fletcher said. “We can’t send a train anywhere. We’ve got more meat containers stuck here than you can poke a stick at.”

Mr Fletcher said FIE was “looking at every option”, including the possibility of shipping out of other ports, to work around the congestion in Sydney to get product to export.

“This is absolutely a disaster.”

Source credit: asian shipper news and