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Return to normal container ship schedule needed to fix productivity issues, Tauranga port boss says

Return to normal container ship schedule needed to fix productivity issues, Tauranga port boss says

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Port of Tauranga.

Port of Tauranga. File photo.
Photo: Supplied / Port of Tauranga

The country’s biggest port says cargo volumes are down as it continues to be plagued with shipping delays and congestion.

The Port of Tauranga’s annual meeting has heard overall cargo volumes were seven per cent lower at 6.4 million tonnes for the three months ended September, driven by weaker log and kiwifruit exports, which more than offset a rise in container traffic.

Chief executive Leonard Sampson told shareholders it needed and hoped for a return to fixed container vessel schedules to ease congestion, with barely a third of current services arriving on time at the port.

“We will not be able to achieve schedule reliability alone and require all New Zealand ports to return to normal container operations and productivity. We are eager to see this happen in early 2023.”

The company was forecasting increased full year earnings between $115m to $120m, compared with $111m the previous year.

“The results over the last year reflected our strong diversity of cargoes and resilient operational performance. We expect these factors, along with our long-term freight agreements with key partners, to continue to provide stability,” Sampson said.

He noted the return of cruise ships for the first time in more than two years, with 103 expected this season, but also voiced concern about global economic conditions and commodity prices.

He was also concerned about the uncertainty created by the Ukraine war, lingering pandemic effects, and inflation.

The meeting also heard of the port’s frustration in getting consent for an extension to its container facilities, which was put up in 2018 but has been hit by delays, knockbacks and red tape, with an Environment Court hearing now due in March next year.

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