Effect of Kaikoura quake hits CentrePort trade

The 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake that struck on 14 November has caused damage to CentrePort in Wellington that will take some time to mend, reports Radio New Zealand.

Port operations were resumed within 72 hours of the quake. Tankers, car carriers, bulk and log vessels, and cruise ships are alongside and working at berths confirmed for safe use. Rail and Maritime Transport Union organizer Todd Valster said the combined Unions and Centreport are now working the first post-quake container ship, the MSC vessel Penelope.

Although parts of CentrePort escaped serious damage, cracks, buckling and liquefaction badly affected the container terminal, the sixth-largest in New Zealand. Cargo ships are having to make long and expensive detours to other ports. The most recent timeline given by CentrePort was three to six months simply to work out how to fix the port. Then there would be the time taken to do the work.

Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association executive director Rosemarie Dawson said that the incident was “causing delays in the delivery of cargo. Ships are diverting to other ports – Napier and Tauranga – and one of our members have been

advised to expect up to three weeks delay for delivery to a Wellington region address.”

Ships from overseas that would normally visit Auckland, Wellington and Lyttelton are now unloading goods at Napier. But this has caused a build-up of containers in Hawkes Bay as they await removal by road or rail companies, which are both unused to the high volume and which have also been impacted by the damage caused to road and rail infrastructure by the quake.

Port of Napier CEO Garth Cowie said that demurrage had been relaxed. “Normally we would allow a day of discharge plus three days for import demurrage to be charged. But because it is taking some time for importers to get their alternative arrangements in place, we have extended that out to nine days.”

Every week since the quake Port of Napier has seen an extra 700 import containers, 400 export containers and up to 7500 tonnes of logs. “It is taking some time to rework logistics – cold storage warehousing and transport, but Napier Port has had a close look at its capacity to handle all this extra volume and we have decided we can do so with its existing infrastructure,” Mr Cowie said.

Meanwhile, at the Port of Auckland, head of communications Matt Ball told RNZ that direct shipborne trade from Auckland to Lyttleton had doubled from 1,000 containers a week to 2,000.