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Natural Disasters Raise Doubts Over Supply Chain Capability

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Natural Disasters Raise Doubts Over Supply Chain Capability

Coastal operator Pacifica Shipping says the integrity of essential freight links between the North and South Islands needs serious attention in the wake of Canterbury's earthquake and a big landslip near Kaikoura.

Steve Chapman, the general manager of operations, said land transport routes north of Canterbury have been shown to be highly vulnerable to blockages and delays by the two recent events.

"If things had been a little worse and rail and road connections were severed for any lengthy period, a near total collapse in the supply chain could easily have occurred," he said.

"In such a scenario the consequences of not being able to move large amounts of food, water, relief goods and other essential items to the affected region would be frightening to consider."

Mr Chapman said Pacifica had shipped over 1,000 containers of vital cargo into and out of the Canterbury region in the past week, providing a secure and unbroken link with North Island markets.

Despite earthquake damage at Lyttelton Port, goods were flowing smoothly and shipping movements were uninterrupted. "The key issue, however, is that only two ships operate on the coast between Lyttelton and northern ports on weekly schedules, nowhere near enough to handle a crisis of larger proportions. "To some extent a variety of other vessels could be utlilised, but none of them would be capable of handling the many thousands of containers needed for a major civil emergency." He said Canterbury's recent events should have government officials and policy planners recognising the importance of strong domestic sea freight services when land-based transport links are disrupted. "This is a timely reminder that when people are displaced from houses and without power, water or sewerage systems, it is imperative we should have adequate supply chain capacity to cope."

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