Port Taranaki’s new transport shuttle service, with its emphasis on maintaining high health and safety standards for all ship’s crew, has been a running success since late June.
The need for some sort of transport supervision for the increasingly diverse and varied number of visitors to the port, particularly ships’ crews, became apparent to port management late last year. What used to often be simple, straightforward trips to or from vessels were becoming more complex, with the cartage of more and more potentially hazardous goods around different parts of the port.
So port health and safety staff were given the task of investigating the feasibility of some sort of shuttle service to cater principally for the different types of crews working different types of ships and cargoes, and who might be walking in, or near, potentially hazardous work areas around the port.
Port health and safety officer, Steve Hart, says the increasing number of different crew nationalities – with their different languages, customs and expectations – made communication quite difficult, particularly from a health and safety perspective.
“After consultation with stakeholders, shipping agents, other port users and port staff, everybody agreed about the need to minimise exposure to these potentially hazardous situations and that some sort of shuttle service was necessary,” says Steve.
In the meantime, Port Taranaki provided high visibility vests for all ship’s crew who left their vessels and this proved invaluable, particularly on dark nights and if they were wearing dark clothing.
Port management then approved a plan and port security took on the responsibility to run the shuttle service. The security staff have embraced this role which has contributed significantly to the success of the shuttle. Security staff patrolling in their vehicles can act as part of the shuttle service, picking up a few people at a time as and when required around the port. Or they utilise the shuttle van – a multi-people mover purchased by the port – which can carry seven passengers and a driver, when larger groups need transporting. The shuttle van is usually parked near the Newton King Tanker Terminal (NKTT), the busiest of all the port’s wharves and the one with the most ship’s crew.
Port security supervisor, Fred King, says the shuttle has proved to be a real success, providing “around the clock, seven days a week, service from ships’ gangways to the main gate”.
In its first 116 days of operation close to 3000 people, mostly ship’s crew, were transported around the port – an average of 25 people per day. Crew coming to or from the NKTT accounted for about 44% of the numbers shuttled around during the first few months, while about 72% of all the rides occurred in the evenings. September 13th was the busiest day so far, with 123 passengers transported in less than nine hours, while two Mondays later saw the shuttle service carry 75 people in five and a half hours.
“The numbers are quite exceptional, larger than anyone anticipated. On busy evenings the numbers are quite amazing. It has increased overall security because we know ship’s crew are now either on-board their vessel or have been escorted off port premises – at least we know they are not wandering around in hazardous areas. It is easier to deal with the occasional visitors who are not aware of local operating conditions or of the potential hazards,” says Fred.
The shuttle service will be reviewed regularly to see if changing circumstances or operations necessitate doing things differently or more effectively.
“Our shuttle has proved to be a real success story so far, something positive and something we are proud of, and I’m sure that will continue,” concludes Steve.