Port should remain part of Auckland City

First of Three Parts
Venkat Raman

Auckland Seaport has been subject to discussion among local councillors and central government ministers in recent months, with three schools of thought emerging in the process-the first recommending status quo, the second suggesting its relocation to Manukau and the third a total shift to Northland.

The suggestion to move the Port out of Auckland should not be entertained. It would take away the lifeline of the country’s largest city, for as Ports of Auckland Limited (POAL) Chief Executive Tony Gibson said, “Ports are the economic engine of the local economy.”

“Nonetheless, we will move to any location to which we are asked to move. However, we have an exciting 30-Year Plan that will transform POAL in 2047. We are conscious of the growing needs of Auckland, particularly the Central Business District” he told Indian Newslink during an interview.

“Sometimes, people do not like what they see,” he added.

Not an overnight job

But moving a Port is not an overnight job. According to experts, it would take up to 30 years to fully relocate a seaport; apart from high costs involved, the decision would do little good to anyone; certainly not in terms of truck movement and other traffic.

It would strike a fatal blow to the Auckland economy.

Mr Gibson said that major cities with port facilities have prospered, contributing significantly to the growth of the national economy in general and the regional economy in particular.

The Waitemata Port has been in service for more than 175 years and has grown from a few simple wharves to a large container terminal.

Impressive figures

“Ports of Auckland is a $15 billion company accounting for 170,000 direct and indirect jobs. We are the country’s largest vehicle import port. We handle more than 300,000 cars a year, in addition to trucks, buses, farm machinery and other vehicles. We get deliveries of up to 3000 vehicles at a time and get them off the port in less than three days. The Port handles about three million tons of iron, steel, timber and other goods,” Mr Gibson said.

Best in Australasia

POAL is the busiest container port, a tourism hub and the most efficient port in Australasia. The port handles about 100 cruise ships annually, with each ship contributing about $1.5 million to the Auckland economy.

In June this year, the Auckland Port was named the ‘Best Seaport in Oceania’ at the ‘Asia Cargo News’ Asia Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain (AFLAS) Awards.

The Port won the Award for the second successive year and was the only New Zealand Port to be selected as a finalist competing against three Australian seaports, namely Port of Melbourne, Port of Brisbane and Sydney Ports Corporation.

Mr Gibson was upbeat about the existing and emerging opportunities, which he described as ‘diverse and exciting.’

“Our people are good at what they do and investment in our team has resulted in innovation, new technology and equipment and processes that are changing the way we do business and enabling us to achieve world-class productivity,” he said.

UNCTAD Figures

According to United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD), the total volume of seaborne trade worldwide reached 10.3 billion tons in 2016, reflecting the addition of 260 million tons of cargo, about half of which was attributed to tanker trade.

The UN body estimates that global trade volume would be 10.6 billion tons in 2017.

“Cargo flows are expected to expand across all segments, with containerised and major dry bulk commodities trade recording the fastest growth,” it said.

Buoyant commerce

Buoyant world trade has provided bumper returns for the world’s leading container-shipping firms. World Trade Organisation statistics show that global trade has grown by 32% since 2006, reaching US$ 16 trillion in 2016. World exports of commercial services accelerated by 64%, reaching US$ 4.7 trillion.

Carbon Free in 2025

The importance of the seaport to the country’s largest city cannot be over-emphasised. Located at the foot of the Central Business District and surrounded by residential and business blocks, POAL has the responsibility of being a good neighbour.

“Our aim is to be the most sustainable port in New Zealand and use our position in the supply chain to lead change in our industry. In terms of the ‘Paris Agreement,’ POAL hopes to become carbon-free by 2025,” Mr Gibson said.

The Paris Agreement, which came into effect on November 4, 2016, aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century below 2° C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° C.

Next in the Series: The 30-Year Master Plan of Ports of Auckland Limited


Photo Caption:

  1. Tony Gibson, Chief Executive, Ports of Auckland Limited
  2. Auckland Port- Fast Facts
  3. Master Plan 2047
  4. Auckland Port- Exports and Imports Statistics

(Images Supplied)

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