SHIPPING lines have come under fire for failing to provide electronic de-hire instructions to empty container parks, with suggestions it is contributing to the risk of spreading coronavirus.

Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers talked of “a major cause for concern” as the container logistics sector implemented measures to stop the virus.

Mr Chambers said ECPs introduced procedures to limit direct interaction and in some cases were neither accepting paper copies of delivery orders nor handling the personal devices of truck drivers for hygiene reasons.

Instead, transport operators were having to email copies of the directions order to the park to be matched manually in the Containerchain system.


“If all shipping lines provided the necessary electronic information on import container de-hire instructions all of the time, we wouldn’t have this problem,” Mr Chambers said.

“CTAA has advised before that this unfathomable lack of cooperation by shipping lines has held back the landside container logistics sector from improving information visibility,” he said.

“Also, it has held back the sector from implementing measures to increase the operational velocity of the empty container transport task, improve truck turnaround times at empty container parks, and to reduce supply chain costs.”

Mr Chambers said Containerchain information showed in only three months of empty container logistics chain operations across the three major east coast container ports in Australia, manual intervention in data entry and physical interaction between park operators and truck drivers was necessary more than 138,000 times.

“What an absolute waste of time and money, just because shipping lines can’t or won’t cooperate with the landside logistics sector,” he said.

“In contrast, in the Port of Fremantle, over 90% of the empty import container de-hires are undertaken using automated gate processing of trucks through the Containerchain eGate app.

“Why do some shipping lines provide the data in Fremantle, but don’t in the larger east coast ports?”

Mr Chambers said it was time for federal or state governments to regulate the provision of electronic information by shipping lines.

Shipping Australia deputy CEO Melwyn Noronha noted the concerns but said the urgent priority was to focus on ensuring international cargo ships could arrive in Australia “without undue restriction and that containers can be unloaded”.

“It is critically important that everyday goods reach shelves in supermarkets and other shops so that Australians can take care of their day-to-day needs,” Mr Noronha said.