Australian Depot Managers Say Free Box Storage Time is ‘unworkable’

Wednesday 30/03/22

Exasperated container depot operators in Australia have called on shipping lines to offer “more realistic” free storage.

Based near Sydney’s Port Botany, Price & Speed demands carriers respond to the “industry-wide” problem of insufficient free time, given the current market conditions of surging volumes and congestion.

Owner Kevin Malouf said: “The world is rapidly changing, and when multiple ships arrive at port, cargo volumes being processed at our depot are exasperated.”

He explained that Price & Speed had been running double-shifts, seven days a week, to keep up with demand and that fumigation and biosecurity inspections could add eight or nine days before a container is released.

“Unfortunately, shipping lines only provide seven days free storage, and this cannot be met.”

He added: “When volumes are high it results in landlocked containers and cargo not collected immediately after release, meaning we soon have insufficient space to unpack safely, which compounds the issue.”

Furthermore, following the tripling of freight rates on Australian tradelanes, Mr Malouf claimed shipping lines were “still operating under conditions that are no longer relevant” and should provide up to 15 days free storage “to suit current trading conditions”.

And according to Paul Zalai, director of the Freight & Trade Alliance (F&TA), Mr Malouf’s opinions are echoed by depot operators ANJ Container Services and Trojan Transport.

He said the F&TA had written to major shipping lines, “with all refusing our request for a blanket extension of detention free-days.

“Most conceded they will assess the quantum of penalties on a ‘case by case’ basis. In some cases they have advised the problems are outside their control, while others have advised to apply for extra free time at origin.”

Indeed, Jim Wilson, policy and communications manager at Shipping Australia, noted that containers were carriers’ private property and therefore the amount of free time is at their discretion.

“Shippers can always attempt to negotiate for terms that are more to their liking,” he added. “And, if their preferred carrier will not meet their terms, then shippers have a choice.

“Australia has a free market system of ocean container carriage. Shipping lines compete with each other. If any one shipping line offers terms and conditions that a shipper does not like, then he or she has the ability to call any one of approximately 22 other container shipping lines that offer import/export carriage to/from Australia.”

Information sourced from here