THE New Zealand government has committed NZ$30 million to increase the country’s coastal shipping capacity.
The government said the funds would “improve domestic shipping services, reduce emissions, improve efficiency and modernize maritime infrastructure”.
New Zealand Transport Minister Michael Wood said the country is moving closer to a more resilient, competitive and sustainable coastal shipping sector following the selection of preferred suppliers for new and improved coastal shipping services.
“Cabotage is a small but important part of the New Zealand freight system, which is why the government is investing to make cabotage a more viable alternative to strengthen and diversify our national supply chain, helping to ensure the recovery of New Zealand after COVID-19,” Mr Wood said.
“As a low-emission mode of transport, investing in cabotage will also help us achieve our decarbonisation goals.”
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency worked with the wider freight industry (NZ Shipping Federation, Port Company CEO Group, National Road Carriers, KiwiRail and Te Manatū Waka – Ministry of Transport), to select four candidates for co-investment in new and improved coastal projects. marine services through the Land Transportation Program (NLTP).
The four preferred suppliers are:
- Bulk Coastal Shipping
- Moving internationally
- Swire Shipping Reviews
- Aotearoa Maritime Alliance
Mr Wood said each of these four selected suppliers will bring at least one additional cabotage vessel into service and together this will improve the resilience of the overall freight supply chain.
“With the support of the freight industry, these additional services will help solve the immediate challenges of coastal shipping and the freight sector at large, solve some of the current problems facing international and national supply chains. and to provide a platform for future growth in all modes with capacity and capacity increases for new and existing bulk materials and containerized cargo,” said Mr. Wood.
“The four preferred suppliers will invest over NZ$60 million in their proposals, which will result in a combined industry investment of over NZ$90 million.”
Mr Wood said the funding was an important step towards making better use of the ‘blue highway’, improving New Zealand’s freight system and ensuring the sustainability of its national supply chain.
“When the new services are fully operational, it is estimated that they will remove around 35 million kilometers of truck journeys from New Zealand’s road network each year, reducing wear and tear and improving safety for road users, while creating new employment opportunities for seafarers and support regional development. This will also support our commitment in the recently released Emissions Reduction Plan to reduce emissions from freight transport by 35% by 2035,” said Mr. .Wood.
“In the meantime, we continue to work to mitigate supply chain issues caused by COVID-19, which includes increasing capacity through KiwiRail, expanding the Aviation Support Program so companies can access international markets and work with the sector to solve problems as they arise.
The Maritime Union of New Zealand has weighed in on the funding, saying it is a ‘game changer’ for New Zealand shipping and the ‘biggest industry turnaround of this century’ .
MUNZ National Secretary Craig Harrison said the four new vessels would have a substantial positive impact on New Zealand’s supply chain crisis, as well as environmental benefits.
Mr Harrison said it was essential that new vessels fly the New Zealand flag and be manned by New Zealand crew to build resilience and capacity in the shipping industry. He said that after decades of neglect New Zealand coastal shipping had turned a corner and could now begin to realize its potential.
Mr Harrison said further investment in the training and skills of a new generation of New Zealand seafarers was an important aspect of rebuilding the industry. He said it was essential for a maritime trading nation like New Zealand to have seafaring capacity and skilled seafarers in an increasingly volatile global situation.