New Zealand’s importers and exporters are under pressure to keep cargo moving after the November 14 earthquake closed Wellington's container terminal, reports Radio New Zealand.
Napier port, the North Island's second largest export port by tonnage, has seen an increase of 700 import containers, 400 export containers and up to 7500 tonnes of logs each week since Wellington was forced to close after the Hanmer Springs quake nearly three weeks ago.
The disaster is causing cargo ships bound for New Zealand's sixth largest container terminal to be diverted to other ports in the country.
Parts of CentrePort in Wellington escaped serious damage, but cracks, buckling and liquefaction from the 7.8 magnitude quake have caused the closure of Wellington's terminal for several months.
Freight companies belonging to the national federation of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association have been early victims of this setback as detours mean that journeys are taking more time and increasing costs.
Ships from overseas that would normally visit Auckland, Wellington and Lyttelton are now unloading goods at Napier instead. This has caused a build-up of containers in Hawkes Bay, on the east coast of the North Island, as road and rail companies are not used to the high volume.
Direct ship-borne trade from Auckland to Lyttleton has also seen an increase from 1000 containers a week to 2000.
Port of Napier Chief Executive Garth Cowie has called for the charge on importers for uncollected goods to be relaxed.
Cowie told Radio New Zealand: “Normally we would allow a day of discharge plus three days for import demurrage to be charged,” he said. But because it is taking some time for importers to get their alternative arrangements in place, we have extended that out to nine days.
“It is taking some time to rework logistics – cold storage warehousing and transport. But Napier Port has had a close look at its capacity to handle all this extra volume and we have decided we can do so with its existing infrastructure.”