Napier Port on track to manage seasonal peak

Added 4 months ago

Napier Port is on track to manage the region’s seasonal peak, and so far it is managing its Covid-19 response very well.

CEO Todd Dawson says the port’s operational preparation for peak season is focused on bringing in empty containers for exporters and having additional labour in place where it is needed.

“Volumes this season are on par with previous seasons. Signs are positive that the growing season has been excellent, however exporters are facing challenges around Covid in their workforce, as well as having access to enough seasonal workers to harvest this year’s crop and a high inflationary environment driving costs higher for businesses.

“Our thoughts are with our customers, suppliers and partners and we sincerely hope that their teams are managing to withstand the surge of Omicron. We’re doing what we can to help them.”

Dawson says that empty container supply is still lumpy, with empty dry containers experiencing a worldwide shortage due to vessel delays and longer dwell times at international ports.

“We keep in touch with international shipping lines to gauge how vessels are moving and look for opportunities, like the addition in January of Zim’s new direct trans-Tasman route on to Asia; and operating flexibly, so we can receive unscheduled ship calls carrying additional empty containers and shipping capacity for exporters.  

“We are seeing some additional cargo arriving from Auckland, as a result of their congestion issues and COVID-related workforce absences and operational delays.” 

Despite Omicron case numbers increasing rapidly in the Bay, Napier Port is experiencing low pandemic related absences, with only 3% of the workforce affected currently. The Port’s entire workforce is saliva testing daily, currently doing around 1400 tests a week. The highly effective system has identified all of the Port’s cases. Structuring shifts and segregating teams also helps to minimise spread by reducing the likelihood that whole areas of the business are unable to operate. 

Dawson says: “We are keeping a close watch and if we start seeing early indications that our operations - or those of our partners on port such as Stevedores - might be impacted, we will let customers know and mitigate any way that we can.

“We’re cautiously confident that we’ve done as much as we could do, weighing up all the circumstances, to protect our people and keep the port open. Napier Port people have been our strongest advocates for our position on mandatory vaccinations and saliva testing knowing that each of us, is protecting one another. I’m very proud of the whole team.”

He notes there are many factors outside the Port’s control that could impact the smooth flow of cargo through the supply chain and onto Napier Port. Covid disrupting customers’ and transport operators’ ability to perform could impact cargo flows and dwell times on-port could be affected.”


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