I write regarding the announcement by VICT of a 43.3% increase in the charge levied for the privilege of using their facilities that is to apply from 1 January.

The new rate will be $121.80 per container. Not bad considering VICT opened less than three years ago at which time, presumably, they had done their sums and predicted that they could operate profitably with no infrastructure surcharge in sight. How wrong they appear to have been.

Is it possible that these surcharges have come about because the introduction of a third stevedore in the major ports has divided the pie to such an extent that each is unable to operate at the profit level that they would like as the required throughput volume per operator is no longer there? After all, introducing additional stevedoring capacity has not brought a single additional container into Australia so what there is, is now split between three instead of two.

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Of course the shipowner is happy as there is now more competition so they have price stabilisation and the stevedores are happy because they have now found a new source of revenue that has no bargaining power, no contractual arrangement and who’s complaints appear to fall upon deaf ears.

The VICT statement reads “As the market is changing, there is a shift towards split waterside and landside tariffs”.

What market has changed? In my view the market is exactly the same as it always was which is a stevedore contracted by a shipping line to load, unload, receive and deliver containers for a price agreed between the parties.

It is very convenient to now say that we are not getting enough out of the old style contract so we will now have to charge totally unrelated third parties for part of the function that should be carried out under the prime contract.

Tom Pinder,
Partner,
Australian Coastal Shipping

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