Another crane, forklift for South Port

BRIDGET RAILTON
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

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South Port has an optimistic eye to the future after announcing the purchase of a second mobile container crane and forklift to cope with projected growth in regional container shipping.

Following a review of the Bluff port infrastructure, in conjunction with its major container shipping line customer MSC, South Port yesterday confirmed an order of $6.3 million of machinery which would increase the container handling capabilities of New Zealand's southernmost deepwater port.

Chief executive Mark O'Connor said the new tools would be essential in accommodating projected growth in the region over the next five years.

South Port had previously worked with a single container crane but consistent volume growth in recent years plus the prospect of further increases in cargo meant the operating model was no longer appropriate for the efficient transfer of containers on the MSC Capricorn Service.

The key driver of growth was Southland's strengthening agriculture and forestry sectors and indicators showed significant growth in cargo volume should be expected.

It was important South Port as a regional port operator was able to provide an efficient and competitive containerised cargo distribution option and this required a two-crane model, he said.

In the short term, the cost was a step backwards for the port. However, Mr O'Connor said he was confident customers would see the middle to long term benefits.

The increased capacity meant ships could spend less time in port allowing for greater flexibility with schedules.

A two-crane infrastructure levy will be passed by South Port to its shipping line customers during the transitional period.

Environment Southland South Port subcommittee chairman Cr Neville Cook said the purchases were positive news for the port.

"Sometimes you have to spend money to make money," he said.

The crane, which is being assembled in Germany, is expected to arrive in Bluff in July and is projected to be operational by the spring.

It is the first major investment in South Port's infrastructure in four years.

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