NSW PORTS has issued a port operator direction to all truck drivers on the roads around Port Botany to address lengthy truck queues on port roads outside empty container parks.

A statement from NSW Ports said ECPs have been seeing high demand by carriers and customers for empty container de-hire.

“On a nearly daily basis, both Simblist and Friendship roads have accommodated truck queues and at times these ranks have not only caused serious congestion but have also created potential safety issues which must be addressed,” the statement reads.

“Despite requests by NSW Ports to ECPs to manage the throughput and demand for empty container de-hire trucks, the size of the truck queues for some ECPs has on days become excessive, which is not only creating hazardous traffic management conditions, but is also impacting on the safe and productive operations of other tenants in Port Botany.

“While the management of truck queues is the responsibility of the ECP operator, NSW Ports has decided to take action to address this issue by introducing additional temporary dedicated truck queuing areas where it is safe to do so.”

NSW Ports said the port operator direction sets out “reasonable and practicable steps within NSW Ports’ control”. They came into effect at 00:00 Wednesday (13 January).

The directions are as follows:

NSW Ports has designated specific areas on port roads … for use by truck drivers in which they can stop/queue and thereby rank while seeking to access specific ECPs.

NSW Ports will put in place signage and line markings to clearly identify the specific truck queuing areas.

Any truck which cannot physically queue entirely within the specific area designated for that ECP will be directed to leave the port precinct immediately. If a truck driver fails to follow the lawful direction to leave the port precinct immediately, enforcement action will be taken against the truck driver and/or owner of the truck/trailer.

Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers said NSW Ports’ move was treating a symptom and not the root cause.

“One NSW transport operator summed it up perfectly. He said, ‘they want the trucks to disappear rather than disappearing the containers’,” Mr Chambers said.

“The bottom line is that the shipping lines need to continue to evacuate more empty containers than they are currently importing through Port Botany so that their empty container equipment imbalance gets back to something close to equilibrium.”

In a statement on the direction the International Forwarders and Customs Brokers Association of Australia said the action from NSW Ports should have benefits in terms of more formal direction for transport companies and truck drivers. 

“The IFCBAA position is that these ECPs do still need to improve their systems and processes, in addition to extending their operating days and hours, as industry continues to try to work together under the current challenges,” the statement reads.

A map from NSW Ports showing designated queuing areas