Port Taranaki is withdrawing from the container sector, including closing its container transfer site.
Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said changes to the New Zealand supply chain had prompted the decision, particularly the introduction of larger international container vessels, the development of inland ports for the containerisation of products, and the increased use of rail transport linking regions to ports with international departures. With coastal shipping impacted by these changes, there was now reduced incentive for shipping lines to call at Port Taranaki.
“We have not had a full container service at Port Taranaki for three years – the last container ship to call was in October 2014,” Mr Roper said. “Since then we have worked hard with potential customers and shipping lines to make it viable to call at the port.
“However, container services rely on scale and throughput, and with the changes to the national supply chain, we have been unable to secure sufficient trade to attract shipping lines. As a result we will no longer seek to recommence a container shipping service.”
Mr Roper said the decision would result in the closure of the container transfer site.
“As a service to Taranaki companies, through an arrangement with shipping lines we have maintained a container transfer site, making containers available to local importers and exporters,” Mr Roper said. “However, with Port Taranaki’s decision to withdraw fully from the container sector, the container transfer site will close.”
Mr Roper said the port was in consultation with two staff who would potentially be affected by the closure of the container transfer operation.
The site is expected to close at the end of January. From 1 December the site will operate from 7am to 3pm weekdays.
In addition, Port Taranaki has closed the cold store on the Blyde Wharf, which stored chilled and frozen products for the dairy and poultry industries. The closure, which was effective from 1 November, resulted in the loss of one position at Port Taranaki.
“Because of the halt in container trade in the past three years, the cold store has been under-utilised, which is why we decided to close it,” Mr Roper said.
The decision to withdraw from the container business has been made following a strategic review of the container sector by the Port Taranaki Board.
Board chairman Peter Dryden said the changes occurring within the New Zealand supply chain and the need to operate a sustainable and successful business for the benefit of the Taranaki community, had brought about the review and subsequent decision.
“After examining our position in the container sector and what we believe are permanent changes to the New Zealand supply chain, investing in future capability to be competitive, such as machinery and systems, was not viable,” Mr Dryden said.
“Port Taranaki will now focus on growth in other areas of the business, such as our burgeoning log business, as well as concentrating on our core business of bulk liquids, bulk dry products and support of the offshore oil and gas sector,” he said.
Mr Dryden said the port would retain its mobile harbour cranes in support of other work, including Port Taranaki’s offshore business.
“We will be working with local logistics providers to ensure continuity for Taranaki importers and exporters,” he said.