Sydney port congestion will take time to clear



Shippers through Sydney have faced significant disruption for several months, due to bad weather, congestion and continuing industrial action by longshore workers, which has caused extensive delays to other ports in Australia and further afield in New Zealand. 

The ongoing congestion has stranded about 50,000 TEU of empty containers in Sydney and shipping lines have said that “it is next to impossible to berth sweepers at Sydney because of congestion” and that “Congestion will have to be worked through before sweepers can call”. Which many believe will take at least a month. 

The latest 24 hour strike by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) at Sydney International Container Terminals (Hutchison Ports Australia) on Friday 23rd October 2020 inevitably adds to the congestion.

Delays are up to 21 days for some vessels calling at Patrick Terminals in Sydney, while vessels calling at Port Botany terminal in Sydney face an average three to four day delay. 

Dockworkers have reached agreement and suspended action at other terminals, but the disruption means congestion in Sydney could last through the end of December. 

Highlighting the issue, the Ocean Network Express vessel Tasman, operating its Australia-North East Asia service has been delayed from mid-November to 1st December, with the line anticipating average delays of one to two weeks.

Aside from the local disruption, when vessels are delayed by weeks before being unloaded, their remaining schedule of call is disrupted and getting empty containers loaded back to vessels is problematic, which leads to equipment being positioned in the wrong places.

We have seen residual disruption to services in New Zealand and while Sydney is the worst, the rotation through the other ports are also facing delays and there have been vessel cancellations in the past few weeks, that came with little notice. 

As ever our local teams will be working closely with customers and shipping line partners to get containers loaded, moved, and delivered.