IT takes skilled wharf staff and a whole lot of collaboration to shift three million tonnes of cargo at a port short on ship berths and storage space, says Eastland Port general manager Andrew Gaddum.

Eastland Port shifted three million tonnes of cargo in the financial year ended 31 March 2018, breaking all previous records for product across the wharf.

At Eastland Port the business of loading and unloading ships is contracted out to companies ISO and C3, and Mr Gaddum is full of praise.

“Staff at these companies are the interface between land and sea. They’re experts in the handling of cargo. The port’s success as New Zealand’s second largest exporter of logs depends on their safety, efficiency and skill.”

“Eastland Port is the gateway to international markets for this region’s prosperous forestry industry, and I have nothing but respect for the personnel who shift that amount of cargo helping meet the needs of our collective customers in this new era.”

In the year to 31 March 2018, 178 ships took away 3,002,369 tonnes of cargo from Eastland Port. Of that, 139 ships took away 2,981,749 tonnes of logs.

The other 20,619 tonnes of cargo was made up of fertiliser (2,380 tonnes on 3 ships), fish (1,319 tonnes on 27 ships), kiwifruit (1,959 tonnes on 2 ships), and squash (14,960 tonnes on 7 ships).

Mr Gaddum says each month more logs are arriving and it’s becoming a logistical challenge to clear the wood off port fast enough, when log ships can park only one at a time.

“Eastland Port and the handling companies have looked differently at how we work, and together we’ve become more efficient by significantly increasing daily load rates and stacking wood more efficiently.”

“The cargo handlers alongside a dedicated team of Eastland Port staff can manage three million tonnes of logs in a year, however in the future, the volume of logs is set to increase to between four and five million tonnes. When this volume is added to increasing regional export volumes of processed timber, kiwifruit and apples, efficiency alone will not be enough.”

Mr Gaddum says the port’s solution is the twin berth development so two 200m long log ships can park in port at the same time.

“The port needs some moderate expansion to be able to handle that amount of export volume and be fit for purpose for the forestry industry, an industry that’s helping this region prosper. Even without a twin berth development our aging infrastructure needs significant maintenance and repair.”
The port released its twin berth development plans and proposed resource consent applications to the public in May 2017.

In the first of three resource consent applications to Gisborne District Council (GDC) the port applied to rebuild and strengthen the aged wharves 6 and 7, so big ships can tie up; and reshape the historical slipway for safer shipping movements in port.

The application for the necessary resource consents was publically notified in December 2017.

Mr Gaddum says over the past year more individuals, and iwi and organisational representatives, have taken up the offer to be part of the port’s 15-year-old community liaison group giving them even more access to information and engagement about the twin berth development project.

“And over 100 people representing business, iwi, and the public, have taken up our invitation for an Eastland Port twin berth information tour. We’re reaching out to the public in every way we can.”

Mr Gaddum adds, “We’re working through finalising our concepts. If ever there was a time to have your say it’s now. Just 53 hours and 42 minutes past the 12 month period the three millionth tonne of logs left Eastland Port on Sibulk Tradition. We need to get on and make this happen.”

Ends

Image caption: It’s not unusual to see two ships berthed at wharves 7 and 8 this time of year loading squash, kiwifruit, and logs. In this picture the dark 172m NIN arrived first, and took the front berth close to waiting logs. There was only just enough room to safely turn the white 150m Klipper Stream in the swinging basin then position her astern of NIN. In the future, Eastland Port wants to be able to simultaneously berth two 200m log ships so the record volumes of wood arriving on port can be quickly and efficiently exported.

Image credit: Kevin Weatherley.