Port deal bonanza; business, economy to gain
The halcyon days of 80,000 containers crossing the Port of Timaru could become a reality again if a strategic alliance with the Port of Tauranga goes ahead.
On Tuesday it was announced Port of Tauranga wants to purchase a 50 per cent slice of PrimePort Timaru.
New Zealand Shippers Council spokesman Greg Steed said Tauranga's move to cater for bigger ships would make Timaru a feeder port, sourcing a lot of South Island cargo for Tauranga. The council represents importers and exporters and shipper organisations.
"We see this as an investment by Tauranga to source South Island volume.
"Bigger ships will call at the Tauranga port.
"We advocate bigger ships as they reduce costs through economies of scale.
"Timaru had lost some container services but now it will come back."
PrimePort's container volumes dropped from a peak of 80,000 in 2008 to 33,000 last year.
In 2009, Fonterra decided to send export dairy products from Clandeboye by rail to Lyttelton for shipment, with Temuka as the storage point. In the past financial year, Temuka processed more than 43,000 containers.
South Canterbury Chamber of Commerce president Tony Howey was confident exporters would welcome the shipping services offered by collaboration with the Port of Tauranga and instead of shipping out of Lyttelton or Port Chalmers, use PrimePort.
"There was a question mark hanging over the container port in Timaru. It is a really important facility for exporters. This move will really put us on the map as the place to start up and do business.
"I am a local business owner and will be supporting the local port as long as it is cost-effective. I have been forced to use another port which is expensive, trucking or railing to other ports."
Hilton Haulage director Peter McAuley said it was great news for transport operators.
"A lot of product leaves the area by train or truck. There will be more total commerce as containers travel at some point on truck. With more containers going out of the port there will also be more containers coming in.
"Christchurch exporters and southern exporters could also start coming here as well and some tonnage from Lyttelton. It is fantastic news."
Aoraki Development Business and Tourism chief executive Wendy Smith said the alliance would strengthen South Canterbury's central role.
"The region has the largest irrigated area of arable land in New Zealand, the second-largest dairy factory in the world, meat and vegetable processing plants, export fishing and timber companies with an abundance of other specialist manufacturers and producers.
"This port alliance initiative will see South Canterbury remain one of the most desirable locations to do business."
- © Fairfax NZ News