REEFER BOXES DEPLOYED BY MATSON

A fleet of 200 newbuild, high-cube refrigerated containers is being deployed by Matson South Pacific.

Acquired on a long-term lease, the new boxes will replace old, standard equipment which is being taken out of service, says Matson South Pacific general manager John MacLennan.

“Other Pacific Island carriers provide this equipment and Matson have been disadvantaged by not being able to do likewise,” he says

“These units will be deployed on our service to Fiji, Samoas, Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue.”

RE-RETIREMENT FOR MSP’s MACLENNAN

Matson South Pacific (MSP) is to soon have a new local head, with John MacLennan announcing his second entrance to retirement after leading the fledging division of Matson Navigation over the past four years.

“When Matson Navigation purchased Reef from the receivers and established MSP which commenced trading in January 2013, I was asked to come onboard for a six-month contract … four years later I am still here!” quipped Mr MacLennan.

Mr MacLennan, who was chief executive of Pacific Forum Line for almost 30 years before having a one-year relief tenure as the head of Reef Shipping, is to be succeeded by current Matson Pacific northwest operations manager Greg Chu.

Mr Chu, who is now in the throes of relocating from Seattle to New Zealand, commenced his career with Matson in 2004, with prime responsibility for directing vessel stevedoring, terminal and auto operations as well as co-ordinating container operations for the region.

Comments Matson Navigation senior vice-president Vic Angoco: “Greg was SSAT’s vessel operation manager for Terminal 25 at Seattle, which was a dedicated Matson facility and he was instrumental in the move of Matson’s operations from Terminal 25 to Terminal 18 in 2002.

“Prior to that, Greg was SSAT’s vessels superintendent for the Pacific Northwest Portion of Matson’s Pacific Coast Shuttle Service. In addition, Greg worked for Matson Terminals in Los Angeles as superintendent, terminal operations from 1996 to 1998.”

Complementing his maritime experience, Mr Chu is a former Lieutenant Commander in the US Naval Reserves, earning a BS in marine transportation from the US Merchant Marine Academy, Kings Point and MBA in business administration from Loyola Marymount University.

ONEHUNGA TRAFFIC IMPROVEMENTS PRAISED

National Road Carriers (NRC) chief executive David Aitken has praised the traffic improvements being delivered through Onehunga by the East West Link project, noting members have welcomed the Neilson Street Bridge demolition and lower replacement road.

“These changes have improved the sight lines for freight drivers and given them extra space for safe turning,” he says.

“The connection between Neilson Street and Onehunga Wharf Road is now working much more efficiently with our members currently noticing better traffic flows.

“The NRC is committed to keeping New Zealand moving and this new lowered road is making it easier for freight and other heavy vehicles to travel through this important freight hub.”

It is understood drivers of heavy vehicles are also appreciative that they are no longer required to stop for the light changes on the steep gradient that was a feature of the over bridge.

Recently commenced by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), the $1.25 billion to $1.85 billion East West Link project will ultimately provide a four-lane road connecting State Highway 20 at Onehunga to State Highway 1 at Mount Wellington.

“This will make it far more efficient and reliable for freight to move through this important industrial and manufacturing area.

“It’s great to see both the NZTA and Auckland Transport aren’t waiting until construction on the wider project gets underway and is getting on with creating early gains and improvements in the area.”

CENTREPORT REGAINS CONTAINER SCHEDULE

CentrePort Wellington will begin hosting weekly ANL Trans-Tasman schedule calls as from February 12, marking the return of the port’s first regular container shipping service since the November earthquake.

A CentrePort spokesperson says the self-geared vessels will provide Wellington shippers with direct connection to Australia and via transhipment with North America, North Asia, South East Asia and globally.

“The services will berth on Aotea Quay Two, which is part of the 1000 metres of operational berth on Aotea Quay,” says the spokesperson.

“We have modified our processes to accommodate the ANL ships. We have already accepted geared ships since the earthquake. We are working closely with ANL throughout this process.”

The spokesperson expects the service will see “several hundred containers” loaded and unloaded per week.

It is understood CentrePort is actively negotiating with other self-geared containership operators in attempt to attract further callers, as it works to resume modified gantry crane operations within the next four to six months.

“Our key trades of ferries, fuel, logs, cars and cruise ships continue to operate. Indeed, since the earthquake many of these trades have performed very strongly. This shows the importance of the port to the economy of the central region, and the hard work we’ve put in to quickly resuming services.”

COUNTERFEIT CONTAINERS ACROSS TASMAN

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has advised the Customs Brokers’ and Forwarders’ Council of Australia (CBFCA) to be on the lookout for so-called counterfeit containers.

Also known as a fake, cloned or re-birthed container, a counterfeit container is one that has had its unique identifier erased from its exterior and replaced with that of another legitimate container.

According to the DIBP, a counterfeit container can be used as a substitute for a copied container to “facilitate a range of border-related offences”.

In a membership update, the CBFCA recounted a recent instance whereby an importer unpacking containers found them filled with cheap brick pavers instead of the goods ordered.

“The whole containers were substituted and counterfeited,” it stated.

“We were told that this particular incident was a very primitive attempt as the containers in question were very old and in poor condition. So the possibility for a more widespread sophisticated operation cannot be underestimated.”

The DIBP advises the following indicators could define a counterfeit container situation:

  • repainted display numbers
  • alterations to corner castings
  • display numbers not matching plate or casting number
  • evidence of grinding of the corner casting
  • original numbers partially hidden or showing through
  • container safety plate or manufacturer’s plate damaged, altered or replaced
  • any evidence of an attempt to replace serial numbers
  • incorrect placement of container number

It is understood that counterfeit containers have not yet presented as an issue in New Zealand.

DIESEL LOCOS DEFENDED

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy has written a personal opinion piece to explain the national rail operator’s decision to purchase diesel locomotives to replace ageing electric locomotives for a section of the North Island Main Trunk (NIMT) Line.

In the piece, Mr Reidy acknowledged the decision was “never going to be easy”, but was taken after careful consideration of all options in a 24-month period of consultation with affected stakeholders.

“Our strategy of simplify, standardise and invest has been hindered by effectively operating a railway within a railway — diesel trains to Hamilton, then electric, then back to diesel again,” he stated.

“The complexity of the electric/diesel mix also meant having to employ drivers and mechanics with specific electric fleet knowledge or engineering skills. It meant more complicated train plans and load schedules.

“Some will ask why KiwiRail couldn’t just make the whole NIMT electric? That would cost $1 billion or more and would also require the networks feeding into the NIMT to be electrified as well, something estimated to cost $2.5 million per kilometre of single track. One day that might make sense but there are challenges such as the Wellington area’s electric network running on a different power system to Auckland’s.”

Addressing criticism about the environmental ramifications of the decision, Mr Reidy noted that even using diesel locomotives was better for than environment contrasted to those cargoes otherwise being moved via road.

Furthermore, Mr Reidy emphasised this was “not a forever decision”.

“Even though diesel trains are the best option for KiwiRail right now, the electric infrastructure will continue to be maintained on the line, leaving that as an option should it be required in the future.”

RTF UNIMPRESSED WITH INTERISLANDER LEVY

Road Transport Forum (RTF) chief executive Ken Shirley has expressed his members’ displeasure with a pending 15.5% “earthquake levy” to be introduced on commercial vehicles travelling on the Interislander.

Mr Shirley says the levy, which is due to be implemented as from the middle of next month, highlights the “deep seated” issues being faced by Interislander parent company, KiwiRail, which have been “brought to the fore following the damaging earthquakes”.

“The proposed levy is more an ongoing ‘capacity levy’ rather than an ‘earthquake levy’ and the restoration of the Picton to Christchurch direct road and rail routes will not solve the problem,” he says.

“There is a potential for this levy to become permanent once imposed under the guise of an ‘earthquake levy’.”

He says road transport operators are facing resistance from customers when negotiating recovery of this new cost which comes on top of the additional costs stemming from the alternative route connecting Picton with Christchurch and regions further south.

“Fundamentally it is now a different freight task. Many report additional costs of at least 20%.”

However, Mr Shirley emphasises that road transport operators “cannot and should not absorb these additional costs”.

“A greater effort is required to ensure that freight costs are met by the customer and consumer. An awareness and understanding of the problem is always a good starting point.”

CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE GUIDANCE FOR EVs

A newly published government guidance document on charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) is expected to enhance the development of a safe and consistent charging network.

With New Zealand’s EV fleet now surpassing 2500 and “exceeding all targets”, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the aim is to provide clear recommendations for both investors and those enabling the development of charging station sites, such as local authorities.

“While we expect most charging will continue to take place at home or the workplace, reliable public charging infrastructure is crucial to provide drivers with the confidence to make longer trips,” says the Minister.

“It can also influence the decision to buy one.”

Minister Bridges adds that the New Zealand Transport Agency worked closely with local and central government and industry to identify recommendations that would best meet the long-term needs of EV drivers.

“Central to the recommendations was ensuring they took into account emerging fast-charge technology and overseas market shifts, learning from the failures and successes of other countries.”

Supporting the development and roll-out of public charging infrastructure, the guidance document forms part the Government/industry programme to achieve 64,000 EVs in New Zealand by the end of 2021.

LARGER TRUCK MEASURES ON KAIKOURA ROUTE

A widened road as well as new parking bays and pull-over areas are among options being considered for the restoration of the Kaikoura State Highway 1 route in order to accommodate larger trucks in greater volume.

Members of the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance, which has been formed to lead the restoration of the earthquake-affected coastal road and rail network, are understood to be in the throes of finalising plans for the project.

At a recent residents’ meeting in Kaikoura, NCTIR head Duncan Gibb reportedly said the aim was to have the coastal road route reinstated by the end of the year. Albeit, he acknowledged this would be a challenging task.

It is understood that some residents in attendance questioned if all alternative options had been fully considered, with it noted that future slips could still impact the reinstated road and that catering for increased trucking volumes would negatively impact the tourist experience.

In this vein, a viewpoint was reportedly expressed that future consideration could be given to using shipping services over road or rail for non-urgent and non-perishable goods, in order to lessen greenhouse gas emissions, noise and “perceived intimidation” of increased trucking.

STRAIT REBOUNDS, INTERISLANDER STILL IMPACTED

Strait Shipping commercial general manager Ed Menzies says business is now “back to normal” following November’s Kaikoura earthquake, whereas the Interislander is reportedly facing an ongoing downturn.

After an initial dip in passenger bookings following the 7.8-magnitude event, the market quickly returned to its buoyant peak summer season levels with no sign of slowing, says Mr Menzies.

“Meanwhile freight volumes increased significantly in the weeks after the earthquake — a trend that has continued through January and isn’t expected to change in the short to medium term,” he says.

“With our vital Cook Strait link even more important following the quake, it’s very much business as usual as we work 24/7 to move freight and people seamlessly between north and south.”

Mr Menzies adds that Strait Shipping has not made any schedule changes as a result of the quake and has both freight and passenger capacity on most sailings.

Contrastingly, KiwiRail sales and commercial general manager Alan Piper is understood to have recently E-mailed customers advising that the badly damaged Main North Line has had a “material impact on freight volumes by as much as 50% on Interislander ferries”.

It has been speculated that KiwiRail is contemplating parking up the Kaitaki for a period in Nelson.