Thursday, January 21, 2010

Australian Freight Transport, Port And Shipping Safety Update

Premier Acknowledges Problems as Election Looms
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – Amongst the pre election rhetoric from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was a ray of hope for the beleaguered logistics industry which the premier admitted, for the first time in his tenure, was vital to the country’s future well being. As well as the usual lengthy references to supply chain coordination and “freight nodes” Mr Rudd referred to the case for dedicated road and rail freight infrastructure development to support the shipping of freight between customers, suppliers and the ports.

Mr Rudd stated that work was already under way on a National Ports Strategy and a Freight Network Plan and, with a typical politician’s love of a catch phrase, has dubbed his plan ”Australia’s Building Decade”. Certainly much needs to be done to match the country’s burgeoning population as predictions have jumped as to the amount Australia will need to spend to avoid severe delays to the throughput of goods. Reports state that a study conducted by US researchers IBIS World undertaking a survey on behalf of Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, freight carriage in the country is set to treble in the next forty years to over 1,500 billion tonne/kilometres and the Prime Minister commented that the figures were “truly staggering”. Transport Minister Anthony Albanese recently used similar language when he said a national transport strategy review was the reason the Government was postponing the much vaunted coastal shipping strategy which, having been announced in October 2008 and promised for 2009, has apparently fallen by the wayside.

In other news this week P & O Trans Australia (POTA) launched their new rail freight service from Yennora into Port Botany. The new service is expected to free up space on approach roads including the M5 tunnel by taking over 130 truck movements from the congested highways. POTA have worked together with the Sydney Ports Authority (SPA) and are continuing to work toward more efficient freight rail services.

Despite the global financial climate Australia has weathered the economic storm better than most and port development seemingly continues apace. As we reported in December, SPA officially allocated the lucrative stevedoring rights to Port Botany’s new expansion project to Hutchison Port Holdings who will operate the new intermodal Terminal 3. Hutchison are also responsible for berths 11 and 12 at Fishermans Islands Brisbane. Works at several other Australian ports is planned or underway with essential channel works at Melbourne and Fremantle to allow access to larger vessels.

Next month will see the start of a 13 week programme by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to commence on 1st February specifically aimed at ensuring carriage of containers at sea is made as safe as possible. Ships masters world wide passing through Australian coastal waters are warned that they are liable to be subject to the Focused Inspection Campaign (FIC) and have AMSA surveyors conduct an inspection, usually in conjunction with a port/flag State control inspection.

AMSA surveyors’ however may undertake a random inspection of only the shipping container securing equipment during the FIC. Should the surveyor find a deficiency during the focused inspection, AMSA will require the Master to carry out all necessary rectification work. If an AMSA surveyor finds a deficiency that is serious in nature, the surveyor may detain the vessel under the Navigation Act.

Such inspections concentrate on container securing equipment; both fixed and portable. The equipment inspected can include such things as twist locks, lashing bars and wires, along with the lashing anchor and securing points etc. Attention should be paid by crews when loading containers to ensure all equipment is in good order.