EMPTY container management in Sydney has reached “crisis point”, Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers says.

Mr Chambers said many empty container parks were at capacity and several closed their doors on Tuesday of this week to import de-hires of certain equipment types due to safety concerns.

He noted other factors including weather, berth and container terminal congestion and stevedore industrial disputes.

“The shipping lines want and need to reposition empty containers out of Port Botany. There is a reported shortage of empty containers in Asia to fill export needs,” Mr Chambers said.

“However, the shipping lines haven’t been able to evacuate the number of empties necessary to alleviate the severe congestion.”

Mr Chambers said the flow-on impact in the logistics chain was huge, with import empties unable to be de-hired, empties being staged through transport yards and held until they could be dealt with, and a massive increase in the redirection notices for empty containers.

“Shipping lines need to schedule larger empty stack-runs out of empty container parks to alleviate the congestion as a matter of urgency,” he said.

“We understand that there will be some vessel calls dedicated to empty container evacuations out of Port Botany over the coming weeks … these can’t come soon enough.”

Mr Chambers said the delays and congestion brought into question the container detention policies of major shipping lines.

“Importers should be talking to their shipping lines about container detention relief,” he said. “If you can’t de-hire the container in a timely manner because empty parks are at capacity, how can shipping lines morally charge high container detention fees for late de-hire?”

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