Wellington Scoop

“Great progress” at CentrePort, but container operations suspended

News from CentrePort
A week after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit New Zealand, CentrePort has resumed most operations and is focussed on minimising disruption to its customers.

Chief Executive Derek Nind says significant progress has been made across the Port and the team has worked diligently to bring essential services online in a safe and planned way.

“We have moved from a situation six days ago when we had no water, no electricity, no phone lines and no email, to the current position where we have large areas of the Port up and running. Engineering inspections were needed everywhere to make the Port safe, and they are ongoing. We had to review all operations and processes in light of the earthquake.

“Safety is our number one priority, and the reality is the seismic engineering inspections take time.

“We understand the importance of the Port to the regional economy, and are committed to resuming operations as soon as practicable.

“It’s important to note all the work carried out in the last week has been done amid continued aftershocks, adverse weather and King tides. We’re also operating in an environment where we’ve been advised there is likelihood of another major earthquake.”

Immediately after the impact of the earthquake, emergency generators were activated to protect refrigerated containers. Within 24 hours, the ferry link between Wellington and Picton was re-established. Within 48 hours the first commercial vessel unloaded cargo at the Port. And within 72 hours a rail link was reopened to begin moving cargo out of the Port.

Five navy ships supporting earthquake efforts at Kaikoura (HMNZS Te Kaha, HMNZS Endeavour, USS Sampson, HMAS Darwin and HMCS Vancouver) called at Wellington Harbour today, while a cargo ship delivered 500 cars to the Port.

Tomorrow (Monday) will see the inaugural visit of the Pacific Aria cruise ship to the Capital. Logs and more commercial ships will begin arriving later in the week.

CentrePort has implemented alternative ways of working. Some staff have been unable to work because of the earthquake, others have been deployed to different roles and we’re looking at possible employment opportunities at other ports.

There is much work to be done, particularly in our container shipping operation, which remains suspended. Potential solutions may mean the Port has to work differently in the short, medium and long term.

Damage to the Port is more extensive than during the 2013 Seddon earthquakes. Many buildings remain off limits, with staff working in back-up locations across the Port and outside the CBD.

CentrePort has welcomed the Government’s technical investigation into the performance of several modern buildings, including Statistics House, which sustained damage to the first and second floors in the North West corner of the building.

Mr Nind says he is optimistic about the future of the Port.

“We’ve come a long way since Monday, thanks to our staff, suppliers and customers, who are pulling out all the stops to reopen the Port, and Wellington, for business. I’ve said it many times over the last few days, and I’ll say it again – I’m incredibly grateful for the hard work being done.

“We’re working on options for getting containers moving through the Port, and finding alternative space for our staff. It’s going to be some time before we return to ‘normal’, but we’re already enabling much-needed economic activity in Wellington.

Wellington is open for business and we are continuing to make great progress.”