Processing cargo that would normally have shipped earlier in the year, Port of Tauranga has had a busy first quarter, with a 6.9 percent increase in trade.
Chief executive Leonard Sampson gave shareholders at the company’s annual meeting an insight into the disruption for the country’s largest port due to COVID-19.
According to Sampson, the pandemic resulted in extensive shipping delays, service cancellations, scarcity of supply and volume volatility leading to congestion at its container terminal and its MetroPort facility in Auckland. Tight labour supply, unreliable shipping schedules and fixed rail capacity constrained its ability to deal with large volume surges, and the Delta outbreak in Auckland had impacted wait times at MetroPort.
“The 2021 financial year was a challenging one thanks to our co-stars COVID-19 and congestion,” says Leonard. “The near future remains uncertain due to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the effects of the extended lockdown in Auckland and labour shortages.
“We expect ongoing challenges from the lack of schedule reliability, constrained shipping capacity, and a worsening of labour shortages. COVID-19 precautions will continue to impact efficiency and costs.”
In the first three months of the new financial year that began in July, the port’s total trade had increased 6.9 percent to 6.8 million tonnes, demonstrating the impact of congestion over the last 12 months, with some cargo being shipped in the first quarter that would usually have been shipped earlier.
“While we are still experiencing major disruption to the international supply chain, with the majority of container ships arriving off-window, we have been able to process more vessels and larger volumes of cargo compared with the same quarter last year,” concluded Sampson.