FREIGHT and Trade Alliance director Paul Zalai has hit out at shipping surcharges at Port Botany, decrying a “lack of transparency” from shipping lines.

Mr Zalai, who also acts as secretariat for the Australian Peak Shippers Association, criticised the Port Botany Congestion Surcharge which, he said, was being continued by the lines despite the Maritime Union ending industrial action.

The Congestion Surcharge ranges from USD 285 to 350 per TEU.

“The lack of transparency poses many questions and frustrations, turning the spotlight away from the core industrial relations dispute to one of opportunistic shipping line practices that appear to be primarily focussed on recovering costs to extend record profits reported during the pandemic and global economic downturn,” Mr Zalai said.

While acknowledging industrial action needed to be resolved, FTA/APSA have advocated for competition law reform and increased regulation to address “unfair charging regimes including the explosion of shipping line surcharges, stevedore-imposed Infrastructure surcharges and empty container park transport booking fees”.

“State and federal governments need to support Australian commerce to take advantage of the opportunities created by free trade agreements and economies recovering from COVID-19 restrictions,” Mr Zalai said.

In a statement posted online, Shipping Australia referred to congestion issues that were “not resolving quickly”.

“Shipping Australia can confirm that there is currently a 21-day delay for some vessels calling at Patrick Terminals in Sydney and all vessel schedules are disrupted to some extent,” the SAL statement read.

“For vessels calling at DP World Australia, the situation is improving but the average delay in Sydney is still three or four days.”

According to SAL, a ship arriving this week is likely to face a 21-day delay with flow-on supply chain impacts. “At best, it will be eight to ten weeks to clear the congestion,” SAL stated.