We refer you to our surcharge notice of 11 September 2020 which imposed an empty container de-hire surcharge of;

➢ 20’ Containers: A$60.00

➢ 40” Containers: A$100.00

We wish to advise you that the circumstances that necessitated this surcharge continues, and will likely worsen over the coming weeks.

By way of explanation, we copy in full below the update received today from Container Transport Alliance Australia.

URGENT

Port Botany – Empty Container Park Truck Queues – NSW Ports’ Direction

You’d be all too familiar with the continuing extreme landside congestion in Port Botany due to the empty container management situation.

Empty Container Parks (ECPs) in the Port Botany precinct continue to operate at or above capacity, with lengthy truck queuing occurring as certain shipping line equipment types are advertised as being able to be de-hired and truck arrival slots are rapidly taken up.

The Port Botany Operator, NSW Ports, is concerned that the significant truck queuing on some days has become excessive, causing hazardous traffic management conditions, and is impacting on the safe and productive operations of other tenants in the Port precinct.

As a result, NSW Ports has now issued a formal Port Operator Direction to all truck drivers using port roads at Port Botany which will be implemented from this Wednesday, 13 January 2021.

NSW Ports is designating specific areas on port roads for use by truck drivers in which to stop/queue while awaiting to access specific ECPs. Signage and line markings are being put in place.

NSW Ports has warned that any truck which cannot physically queue entirely within the specific area designated for that ECP will be directed to move on. This is a lawful direction from the Port Operator and enforcement action can be taken by NSW Ports’ officials against drivers and/or transport operators.

The Port Operator Direction includes a map with an indication of where the truck queuing will be allowed. Click on the link above to download the Direction and map, or go to https://ctaction.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/0111-NSW-Ports-Port-Botany-Notice-ECP-traffic-directions-11-Jan-2021.pdf

Transport operators are urged to bring this Direction to the attention of truck drivers (company employed and subcontractors), and to operational staff.

CTAA Comment / Actions:

While safety is paramount, the NSW Ports’ Direction is dealing with the symptom of the congestion, not the direct causes.

The ECPs in Port Botany continue to operate at or above capacity because not enough empty containers have been (or are being) evacuated by shipping lines to reduce the considerable surplus of empties that have been allowed to build up over many months.

The “Load / Discharge Ratio” of container imports (full & empty) compared with container exports (full and empty) continues to show a surplus of containers in NSW of approx. 50,000 TEU. The evacuation efforts by shipping lines to date – while laudable and ongoing – in reality haven’t made much of a dent in this surplus due to unprecedented import volumes. It is expected therefore that extreme empty container management congestion will continue for some time to come.

It has been well documented and recorded by CTAA that the landside empty container congestion in NSW is costing transport operators conservatively approx. $130 per container in additional handling, transport and administrative costs. Any enforcement penalties for trucks “illegally” parked or queuing in non-designated areas in the Port precinct with simply add to this cost burden.

CTAA and its alliance companies continue to engage with the NSW Government, Transport for NSW, NSW Ports, shipping lines, ECPs and other landside stakeholders and representative bodies to try to address the issues in the short, medium and longer term. This includes through the NSW Empty Container Working Group (ECWG) and the NSW Port Transport & Logistics Taskforce (PTLT).

It is anticipated that the designated areas for truck queuing being provided by NSW Ports will not be adequate to accommodate the current queuing situation. CTAA has raised whether the Port Botany Truck Marshalling Area (TMA) might be able to be used in the future as a holding point for trucks “queuing” to be serviced at ECPs in the Port precinct, not just waiting for terminal time-zones to open.

An analogy is in the Port of Fremantle where the TMA adjacent to the Port at Rous Head is linked to an App administered through the port operator Fremantle Ports. Through the App, drivers can be directed to the TMA and called forward to any facility within the port precinct if a congestion situation occurs. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that in Port Botany at present.

CTAA would welcome feedback from Alliance companies and others regarding the severe truck congestion at Port Botany associated with the continuing empty container management “crisis”.

VGL will continue to keep you updated with any further developments.

Should you have any questions or queries relating to the above, please do not hesitate to contact your VGL Client Relations Representative.