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In early April, six ships were anchored in Poverty Bay, waiting for their turn at the wharf at Eastland Port – a stark reminder, according to port general manager Andrew Gaddum, why work on the twin berth development needs to get underway

More records amongst a strong year for Eastland Port

Eastland Port achieved an annual tonnage throughput of just under 2.9 million tonnes of cargo in the year to March 2019, slightly down on last year’s record-breaking result, but other major milestones were achieved.

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General manager Andrew Gaddum says the 12-month period was another very strong year for throughput at Eastland Port, with vessels taking the district’s export product to South Korea, Japan, China, and Singapore. 

In the year to 31 March 2019, 140 ships handled 2,956,071 tonnes of cargo at Eastland Port, of which the vast majority (2,941,324 tonnes) was logs. The other 14,747 tonnes of cargo was made up of fertiliser, fish, kiwifruit and squash.
 
Mr Gaddum says the record of 3,000,766 tonnes of cargo handled in a year was set in 2018. The lower log export volume in 2019 was primarily due to the floods in June last year which significantly impacted the region’s harvesting and transport infrastructure.

Setting new records

While the annual record wasn’t surpassed, there were other milestones reached in the time period. Eastland Port marked a cart-in record-setting day after 15,004 tonnes of wood arrived and was processed on Tuesday 19 March 2019. “To put that in perspective, that’s about half a ship’s worth of wood,” says Mr Gaddum. The previous record of 14,838 tonnes was also set during the year on 18 December 2018.
 
“Processing 15,000 tonnes of wood in a day on-port represents thousands of hours of work by a range of people beforehand – the port is just the last part of a process that thousands have played their part in,” he adds.
 
Eastland Port also broke a record in August 2018 when 316,765 tonnes of cargo was swung over the wharf – the first time the monthly tonnage has been over 300,000.

Mr Gaddum says a ship carrying 30,000 tonnes of logs injects over $3 million into the region’s economy. “It provides the forest owners a return and importantly creates many direct and indirect jobs within this community. More than 50% of the above amount goes to pay locally-based contractors and suppliers, regardless of who owns the trees.”

Capital improvements

Mr Gaddum says that as well as being the vital link for wood exports, there is also a growing need for the port to provide for higher-value break-bulk products and container exports from the forestry, horticultural and agricultural industries.

“Collectively these industries provide a very strong foundation on which to continue with the port’s repairs, maintenance and development work, known as the twin berth development plan,” says Mr Gaddum. 

“While appearing reasonably robust to the eye, some of the port’s structures need repair and maintenance. We need to start work as soon as possible and make some capital improvements to ensure the port continues to provide the services our region needs now while ensuring it has the ability to deal with a variety of product growth in the future.” 

The work will also allow for simultaneous loading of two 200 m long vessels at Eastland Port, ensuring efficient export of primary produce coming from the region’s range of industries.

“The port has submitted resource consent applications related to the twin berth development to ensure it can continue to provide vital links to a world that is hungry for our primary produce,” Mr Gaddum continues. “In early April we had six ships anchored in the bay, waiting for their turn at the wharf, which is a stark reminder why we need to begin work straight away.”
 
Consent for some of the repairs has been granted, but an appeal has delayed the start of work.

In another year-end highlight, Eastland Port recorded its best-ever year for cruise ships. In total, 19 cruise ships were scheduled to visit the region, with 14 anchoring in the bay, and one berthing wharfside. Four of the ships could not come into the bay due to bad weather.


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