Urgent need for coastal shipping as congestion, delays worsen

In News2 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineMarch 11, 2022

Congestion and delay challenges are being made worse by a lack of New Zealand-based coastal shipping in the freight space, according to the Maritime Union.

Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison said there are multiple compounding stress points in the system, the latest of which was in trucking delays affecting the South Island.

Harrison said these are the result of bad policy decisions over a long period, which had led to the rundown of New Zealand coastal shipping.

“The problem is not so much a shortage of truck drivers, the problem is an imbalance in our system,” he said.

Harrison said New Zealand was struggling with unreliable overseas shipping schedules due to the global situation.

This had built up a backlog and placed great stress on the system, and delays and shipping congestion charges were becoming a major drag on the economys.

The situation had now been compounded by staff shortages as Omicron swept through the country, and the latest shock of war in the Ukraine that had introduced a major risk factor to our supply chains.

Harrison said it was now apparent the government needed to step in, and develop a New Zealand-focused shipping line that could use chartered vessels to relieve the pressure on the system and target the needs of New Zealanders.

“The demand is obviously there, this is a crisis, and there is every indication that the global situation is going to remain a complex and challenging one,” he says.

Harrison said New Zealand has left itself open to supply chain chaos in a volatile global situation and had to move quickly to reposition itself and build a resilient transport sector.

“We now need to move away from the ‘just in time’ approach, to the ‘just in case’ approach in supply chains and transport.”