Swanson Dock at night.
(Image courtesy of the Port of Melbourne)
In July, DP World Melbourne announced its West Swanson Terminal would treat Sunday as a normal receival, delivery and storage day from October, in response to the significant increase in the number of vessel calls and congestion at the terminal particularly over weekends.
Under the new policy, Sunday will be included as part of the three days of availability for the delivery of imports and as an export receival day. Storage charges will also accrue for ‘time-up’ containers on a Sunday.
VTA CEO Philip Lovel said the issues of handling container trade volumes effectively at the terminal were yet to be resolved.
“We continue to have significant dialogue with DP World on the issues. It is appreciated that while on average some 30 per cent of container volumes are received into West Swanson Terminal from vessels over weekends, only some 11 per cent of containers are distributed through the stevedore’s gate on a weekend,” Mr Lovel said.
“We also continue to work with transport companies to encourage greater uptake of vehicle booking slots at night and over weekends.
“This is having an effect, with more volumes moved by road in the Port of Melbourne during night-shifts and on weekends than in any other major capital city port in Australia,” he said.
However, he said additional costs were unavoidable because of the limited importer and exporter operating hours on weekends as well as very limited opportunities to de-hire empty containers on weekends, leading to further staging added costs.
“The immediate practical outcome of DP World’s Sunday operations policy will be added costs in the landside logistics task ‘downstream’ from the stevedore’s gate, and increased terminal storage costs as containers become ‘time up’ on a Sunday,” Mr Lovel said.
“We have urged all road transport operators engaged in container transport to ensure that the added costs of transit operations and the additional costs of moving towards 24/7 operations must be borne by the end-use of their services – importers, exporters and freight forwarders.”
He said the container transport sector should push harder to solve the mismatch of operating hours across its chain to effectively cope with continuing container growth.
“Studies all point to the need for parties in the container transport chain to consider the ramifications of their existing operational practices against the realities of continued strong container trade growth and the pressures of 24/7 operations at the ocean terminal interface,” Mr Lovel said.