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Backlog issues addressed

Port introduces new measures to speed up loading process

EASTLAND Port has introduced new initiatives to reduce the backlog of ships sitting in the bay and help stabilise the East Coast forestry industry.

Eastland Group chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum said local forestry owners were seeing reduced revenues from harvest as a result of the additional cost of ships waiting to be loaded, lowering wharf gate returns.

“Forestry harvesting is having to be curtailed due to a lack of log storage capacity at the port and this is adversely impacting the local forestry supply chain, so we’ve put in place a range of new measures to help the situation.”

The allocation system has been modified and new operational parameters put in place with exporters required to follow a series of rules aimed at significantly speeding up the vessel loading.

Rules include limiting the amount of cargo that can go on the deck of ships and reducing vessel depth, meaning they will not have to wait for a high tide in order to depart the port.

A booking and scheduling system has been introduced so vessels know when they are able to load and can better plan other work around this, meaning they do not need to spend unproductive time anchored off Gisborne.

Thirty-three ships are locked in for processing under the new schedule.

“These solutions will offer consistency across the industry and will decrease vessel turnaround time and allow for more wood to be moved across the port,” Mr Gaddum said.

“Our focus is on trying to clear the immediate backlog as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“Once this is achieved the settings will be reviewed but at this stage they are expected to remain in place until January 31 next year,” he said.

“The port has worked hard to get as much consensus on this as possible and consulted with the wider industry.”

Mr Gaddum said the port’s focus was to move as much wood as possible across the wharf in the shortest amount of time while maintaining strict health and safety standards.

“This will allow the industry and those most at risk of financial hardship to have the best chance of success, relieving pressure on local forestry crews and trucking companies.

“We know forestry contractors and trucking companies are hurting financially so it’s important to us that we pull as many levers as possible to help relieve the situation.

“We’d like to acknowledge these challenging and unprecedented circumstances and thank the entire forestry supply chain for working collaboratively to help create stability for the East Coast forestry industry.”

The Twin Berth Project in development at the port will help minimise such congestion events, with two 185-200-metre-long ships able to berth at once.

UNDER THE RAINBOW: Eastland Port has put in place a new booking and scheduling system to allow better planning around log shipments from here to avoid the ongoing backlog situation. This stunning photograph, taken by Dylan Carse on Saturday morning, shows the log ship Hoihow alongside the wharf loading before departure for Tauranga.