As any transport operator who regularly loads or unloads at a port would know stevedore charges have never been higher. These charges are paid to port operators, to load and unload cargo from the ship to the truck and visa versa.
According to transport industry group, Container Transport Alliance Australia, the average fee for unloading an import container has risen from $24.52 in 2017 to $121.87 in March 2021 for NSW, from $34.63 to $118.59 for QLD, and $27.07 to $128.51 in Victoria. It’s no wonder that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) annual Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report 2019-20 published late last year showed that the stevedoring industry generated $167 million in revenue from Infrastructure Access Charges in 2018-19, up 63 per cent from the previous year.
Since shipping lines will contract a single stevedore, transport operators are being forced to accept these excessive fees, with no options for a better price. In addition to stevedore charges some port operators have introduced new fees like the vehicle booking fee at the privately owned Port Botany which has jumped by nearly half in the past year. There has also been a ‘long vehicle’ charge introduced at Patrick Terminals.
In the end, transport operators will be forced to pass these increased costs on to consumers through higher prices, costing both Australian consumers and exporters. Trucking companies face having to cut wages and lay off staff, putting yet more strain on an industry already doing it tough in current economic conditions.
NatRoad is currently engaging with the Federal Government and the ACCC on this subject and is seeking for greater intervention so that price gouging does not occur.