Sharp rise in Timaru container traffic

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 14:13 16/04/2014
containers
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ

CONTAINING HOPES: Activity at Port of Timaru has increased by 25 per cent since its acquisition in 2013.

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Container business has increased at Timaru's port since last year's acquisition by the Port of Tauranga.

Business had grown by 25 to 30 per cent during the first four months of operation, which was an extremely positive sign, Port of Tauranga corporate services manager Sara Lunam said.

"We are extremely happy with how business is coming along in Timaru. Some of the increase can be attributed to seasonal factors, but we are still very happy with how it is going."

She could not provide specific figures on how many containers were going through the port due to the short operational period and commercial sensitivity.

Lunam said Tauranga had been visiting potential customers across the country, presenting the benefits of using both ports, along with the new land-based hub in Rolleston.

"We believe we have put ourselves in a strong strategic position to become a super port."

Port of Tauranga bought out the container business last year, which Prime Port chief executive Jeremy Boys said was an innovative move.

"We are the only port in the country not to have the council as majority shareholder," he said.

Prime Port brokered the deal in which the Port of Tauranga has a 50 per cent shareholding in Prime Port operations, and a deal to lease North Mole land from the Timaru District Council, which owns all the port land.

Before the partnership, Timaru's port had seen container movements drop from 80,000 20-foot container equivalents a year to 20,000 as shipping companies decided to use larger ports, but the partnership with Tauranga has turned this around.

While Tauranga was focusing on the container trade, Boys said PrimePort Timaru was looking to increasethe break bulk business.

Break bulk are goods which have to be loaded individually on to ships. "Break bulk such as logs have increased this year, but this is for market reasons," Boys said.

However, PrimePort had reclaimed land in the port area to increase space needed for expansion in break bulk.

"We look at the entire South Island as a region. We have been strengthening our relationships within our region," Boys said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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