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Saint John port sees 19 per cent growth in cargo tonnage

·3 min read

Nearly 22.2 million metric tonnes of cargo moved through Port Saint John in the first three quarters of 2021, marking a 19 per cent increase over the same period in 2020.

As of the end of September, the volume of container TEUs, known as twenty-foot equivalent units, that moved through the port jumped six per cent higher than in 2020, marking the fifth consecutive year of growth in the container sector, according to a media release from Port Saint John.

And the growth of container cargo at Port Saint John is expected to continue to rise, driven by several major developments in 2020 and 2021.

One positive influence has been the $205-million West Side Modernization Project, which is due to be completed in 2023. It's funded in partnership with the Government of Canada, the Province of New Brunswick and Port Saint John, reads the release.

Launching the CP Rail’s East Coast Advantage strategy and rail services through acquiring and improving the former CMQR line in Maine is also expected to "solidify" Port Saint John as the only Maritimes port with two Class I national rail providers, reads the release.

Captain Chris Hall, interim president and CEO, said Port Saint John is focused on growth in the container sector in partnership with its terminal operator DP World, a multinational logistics company. The Dubai-based company is "blending its global reach and influence with the benefits of the port's West Side Modernization Project to achieve the common objective of sustainable growth," said Hall.

"Continuing to build strong foundations with our partners in the rail and shipping sector is another essential component of supply chain innovation as we continue to move forward in modernizing this Port."

In an interview, Hall said the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created disruptive supply chain issues globally, had virtually no effect on moving cargo through the port in 2020 and 2021. Hall attributed this success to the port's "ecosystem."

"We have what's called good fluidity, which means goods move in and out in a very efficient and timely manner," he said. "We don't have a lot of congestion that was caused because of the pandemic."

Another reason for the efficiency, he added, is the two Class I railways that service the port. And shippers and receivers have the option of using either two railways or the highway.

"(The port) is right next to the highway, so any goods that are going from the port that are moving by truck, it is literally a few seconds off of the highway," Hall said. "That's an advantage that a lot of other major ports, particularly container ports, do not have."

Additionally, the ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd’s regular container service has joined two other top-tier shipping companies, MSC and CMA CGM, as regular container service providers in 2021, bringing the port to "a whole new level," Hall said.

"There are so many more options for a shipper to use. They are not beholden to one line carrier and the other ports that have line services, the number of options are magnified significantly."

Growth isn't just limited to the container sector. Dry bulk cargoes are experiencing a year-to-date uptick of 128 per cent, according to the release.

"Two main commodities are driving this increase, potash and recycled metals," the release reads "Potash was at 444,550 tonnes at the end of September 2020 and is at 1.25 million tonnes at the end of September 2021. Recycled metals in 2020 were at 147,230 tonnes at the end of September and is at 234,989 tonnes as of the end of September 30, 2021."

Robin Grant, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal

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