Two giant cranes, which have been sitting idle on Wellington’s waterfront since the November quake, are back in action.
Temporary work on CentrePort’s 700-tonne gantry cranes have allowed the machines to return to pre-earthquake service levels, a CentrePort spokesman said.
The cranes, which load and unload container ships, were not damaged in the quake, however both jumped off the rails they sit on, with land beneath the cranes weakened.
CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind.
For the past 10 months, the only ships able to unload directly at the port were ones with their own cranes, which was uncommon in New Zealand waters.
As a result, cargo bound for Wellington has been diverted to other ports such as Napier, and containers shifted by rail or truck to the capital.
CentrePort, owned by Wellington and Manawatu ratepayers, spent $28 million securing 125 metres of the 585-metre wharf, including doing temporary paving works.
A CentrePort spokesman said there were many technical and logistical obstacles, including a limited supply of key materials and challenging weather conditions.
Over 185 piles, made from more than a thousand tonnes of steel, have been driven about 40 metres into the soil.
In addition, 644 gravel columns have been set in the ground to reduce any liquefaction from future earthquakes and provide resilience to the temporary works.
The completion of the temporary works would enable more shipping lines to return to Wellington, linking regional businesses with international markets.
CentrePort chief executive Derek Nind said importers and exporters in central New Zealand would receive a “major boost”.
“Container shipping accounts for $1 billion of the $2.5b contribution made by the port to the regional economy, and supports about 8500 jobs.
“We know how important CentrePort’s container shipping is to central New Zealand’s economic competitiveness, [but] using alternative trade routes has increased domestic transport costs by up to 800 per cent for some businesses,” Nind said.
On Monday, the cranes started working on the Jens Maersk, part of Maersk Line’s Northern Star service.
Later this month, weekly visits by MSC Capricorn and the NZS/KIX service will also resume.
These will join the ANL Transtaz service, which has visited CentrePort weekly since February.