New Zealand shipping getting back on track after quake

A month after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the ocean about 300m east of New Zealand, CentrePort in Wellington continues to display a large number of ‘no-entry’ signs, Reuters reports.

Parts of the site have been hit by liquefaction, cracking or buckling, which continue to hamper exports of meat and farm produce to China and Australia.

New Zealand’s central bank has estimated that the total economic cost of the quake will be up to NZ$8bn (US$5.78bn), or 5% of annual gross domestic product.

“We are important to the regional economy, so it is important to resume (full) operations soon,” said CentrePort Wellington CEO Derek Nind, CEO, adding that “we need to think how we build resilience into our ports. I am trying to get world experts to help us on that.”

Nind said that the port, which handled trade worth NZ$3.3bn last year, was unlikely to be back at 100% operational capability until April. Major problems include container shipping and cold storage, both of which remain out of bounds. Nind’s own office is also closed. He said it was not yet possible to assess how much business would be lost as a result of the earthquake. However, log shipping operations have returned to normal in December, good news for New Zealand’s rapidly growing forestry sector.

The government has cut its 2016/17 budget surplus estimate by more than a third to NZ$473m due to costs related to the quake.