Thursday, December 7, 2023

Napier Port back in business for cargo

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Long-term effects of storms will hit fruit and veg shipping volumes.
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Power to critical infrastructure at Napier Port has been reinstated, but the ongoing affects of Cyclone Gabrielle will impact shipping volumes, particularly in the fresh produce sector, port chief executive Todd Dawson says.

Extensive damage to the roading network was also affecting access.

The port, which closed on February 13, was partially reopened on February 16 with generators used to power infrastructure and refrigerated cargo containers.  

Mains power was reinstated on Tuesday (February 21) allowing the port to return to full cargo operations, including accepting refrigerated containerised cargo.

 “The best thing Napier Port can do to support recovery is to keep essential supplies and imports coming into the region, and to help our exporters get their cargo to market,” Dawson said. 

“Cargo owners have been in touch every day wanting to know how soon they can get their products onto vessels, so it is really rewarding for the whole team who have been working hard to make this happen.”

All port staff are safe. Some have been “significantly impacted” by the cyclone and are being supported. 

Damage to road and rail infrastructure is limiting access to the port, but in recent days roads to the south via SH2 and SH51 have  opened. 

Highways from Napier to Waiora (SH2), Eskdale to Taupo (SH5), Takapou to Hastings (SH50) and the Taihape to Napier road remained closed as at February 21.

On Monday, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced a $50 million support package to provide immediate relief for businesses hit by the cyclone.

An additional $250m has been ring-fenced to top up the National Land Transport Fund’s emergency budget to repair crucial road networks. 

In a statement to the NZX this week, Dawson said the considerable damage to industries such as horticulture, agriculture and forestry is likely to affect trade volumes. 

“We are working closely with cargo owners to overcome local logistical bottlenecks and ensure they retain access to regional and global markets,” Dawson said.

“At present we are unable to quantify the impact on regional business and the trade across Napier Port’s wharves.  However, it is clear that the storm will impact trade volumes, particularly in the fresh produce sectors.” 

Dawson said the port’s main role in regional recovery is to get up and running, but the company has also been pitching in where it can offer help and many staff are volunteering in different roles. 

The New Zealand Army has been using the port as a base while it assists with the region’s recovery. Naval vessels HMNZS Te Mana and HMNZS Canterbury have also been berthed at the port.

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