Stink bug issues cause ongoing delays at Ports of Auckland

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineApril 24, 2018

Ports of Auckland is under pressure from a combination of incoming car carriers as well as inspections to prevent the brown marmorated stink bug from entering New Zealand.

The port has a capacity of about 5000 cars, and two of the vessels arriving this month with used cars are carrying more than 4000 vehicles. This influx is causing delays, as vessels cannot discharge until previous cargos have been removed. The discharge is being further delayed by ongoing MPI inspections of these vessels.

Full inspections can slow discharge rates by up to 90%, and while the discharging vessel is alongside, no other vessel can be there. MPI fogging operations are also being carried out, limiting berth space. This berth and discharge space pressure is resulting in significant congestion.

Car carriers are being anchored off shore, waiting to enter the port, and high-risk vessels are taking days, sometimes weeks, to discharge, where they previously took hours.

Low-risk vessels (from Europe and Southern Asian ports) discharge normally but wharf space is limited because of the high-risk vehicles on the wharf.

Chris Carr, director of Carr & Haslam Limited, says as a direct result of the stink bug distortions this month, he expects 36,000 cars through the port.

“The previous highest number was 25,000 per month. That‘s a 45% increase, and the logistics pipeline is struggling with the pressure. Not many systems can cope with an almost 50% increase in pressure without some pressure elsewhere.”

Carr says the delay pressure on inbound vessels has an immediate effect on vessels able to ship cargo south, and up until last week this was complicated with the strikes in Lyttelton.

“These have now been settled, but there will be a lag before southbound vessel flow can return to normal. However, the pressure on wharf space means that Ports of Auckland need to provide space to load southbound vessels at the same time as they provide space for inbound cargo. Both only add to the pressure.”

Carr says while Ports of Auckland is under pressure as the ‘first port of call‘, Lyttelton now has capacity to receive vessels and vehicles as they are rescheduled south, and has capacity for about 1600 vehicles on the wharf