Patrick 'operating well' after long port delays

Patrick confident the wharf delays which saw trucks queued for hours at Port Botany have been fixed

By Jason Whittaker

Stevedore operator Patrick says it is confident the wharf delays which saw trucks queued for hours at Port Botany a fortnight ago have been fixed.

And the roll-out of rail-mounted gantries (RMGs), which the company admits has taken longer than expected, will soon be available to assist straddle import delivery to road to improve truck turnaround times further.

Trucks were waiting up to five hours to be slotted on a chaotic day at the busy container terminal on January 21.

The delays, which Patrick blames on unexpected import volumes the previous weekend, received a rebuke from the New South Wales Government which has threatened to tighten the regulatory noose around stevedores.

A spokesperson for Patrick says the terminal has been "operating well since the events of two weeks ago".

"We are working with the industry to try and ensure that it doesn’t happen again," she says.

Patrick says the commissioning of the RMGs has been beset by "complex technical issues", but reports "good progress" on freeing up the gantries for road use.

A note to customers after the delays read: "We regret that services to road and rail operators have at times not met the expectations of our customers during a peak volume holiday period whilst commissioning of complex equipment and new systems has been in progress.

"Reliability of landside services is a high priority for Port Botany going forward."

Patrick also denies reports company trucks were preferenced over other operators during the delays.

One frustrated driver reported to Owner//Driver that Patrick trucks "seemed unaffected" by the queues while others had to wait "for hours" with no toilet facilities made available.

Patrick’s spokesperson says that is "completely untrue", pointing to previous investigations by the competition watchdog which found no preferential treatment of company trucks.

The spokesperson wouldn’t comment on the threats from NSW Ports Minister Joe Tripodi to introduce penalties for truck delays, saying only it is "important that we address the issue and reduce any congestion at the port".

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