Container chaos in Sydney: ‘It’s a nightmare scenario leading into Christmas’

container chaos

The container logistics chain in Sydney is hurting – and the ultimate losers are the public who will pay higher pre-Christmas shelf prices, warns Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) director Neil Chambers.

Chambers made the statement after a large group of pro-Palestinian protesters blocked entry to Hutchison Ports Sydney Terminal off Sirus Road yesterday (November 21), leading to Hutchison having to cancel landside truck entry “zones”, disrupting cargo flows.

After refusing to comply with a police move on direction, 23 protestors were arrested and charged with the offences of fail to comply with move on direction and damage or disruption to a major facility.

Chambers said the crowd was at Port Botany to protest the berthing of the Zim Line controlled vessel CALANDRA, which operates between Southern China and Australia on the China Australia Express (CAX) service, so, in reality, goes nowhere near the Middle East or Israel.

“Peaceful protests are fine, but blocking entrances to Port Botany terminals impacts directly on hard-working transport operators and their drivers who are just going about their lawful business to pick up the import cargoes and deliver the export cargoes that keep the NSW and Australian economies operating,” Chambers said.

“These delays come on top of significant continued disruption at DP World Australia’s Port Botany Terminal due to crippling ongoing protected industrial actions by its stevedoring workforce and the maritime union, combined with the aftermath of the major cyber-attack experienced by the company.”

In the last 48 hours too, the Patrick Sydney Terminal has also experienced operational difficulties, leading to significant truck queuing and truck turnaround times blowing out by as much as four hours, added Chambers.

“All three international container terminals in Sydney, all with landside logistics delays and problems caused by external and internal factors. It’s a nightmare scenario leading into Christmas.”

“These are really challenging times in container road transport logistics in Sydney, as bad as I’ve seen it since Covid.”

Chambers said transport operators are finding it extremely difficult to get the job done to meet the high demands of their import and export clients in such a poorly operating port environment.

“More night and weekend shifts will be necessary to try to play catch-up to clear the backlog. But, this comes at a heavy operational price, leading transport operators to speak with their clients individually about the recovery of truck waiting times, futile trips, or general landside congestion surcharges.

‘The ultimate losers are the public through higher logistics costs, translating into higher pre-Christmas shelf prices during the cost-of-living crisis being felt by many Australians.”

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