Upgrade work causes vehicle import congestion

Infrastructure upgrades at both Ports of Auckland (PoAL) and Lyttelton Port Company (LPC) are adding congestion to the movement of New Zealand’s new and used vehicle imports.

Handling about 300,000 cars and over a million tonnes of heavy vehicles and project cargo each year, PoAL is in the throes of building a vehicle transitional facility at the south end of its Bledisloe Terminal which is due to be completed in the second half of next year.

While the initiative will ultimately create more space to handle vehicles as the port seeks to use its land more intensively and eliminate the need for future reclamation, the works have currently impacted capacity.

Down south, LPC is in the midst of a comprehensive rebuild programme as it seeks to increase overall capacity and recover from the significant damage suffered in the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

However, the port – which handles about 61,000 vehicles annually – has consequently seen its already-low vehicle capacity about halve to about 800 vehicles. It is understood that ongoing reconstruction and reclamation have also moved vehicle discharges into construction zones, with predictions such issues will continue for another two years.

With roll-on roll-off vessels consequently unable to carry as many vehicles from Auckland to Lyttelton it has been speculated that operators may ultimately drop the latter port if they cannot make cost-effective calls and turn their vessels around in a timely manner.

Such developments will also be expected to put more pressure on the country’s roading network – lengthening transit times between Auckland and Christchurch and increasing traffic on areas of the State Highway network which are prone to closure in winter.


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