Dublin Port will force cargo firms to slash time containers sit on docks
The introduction of new border and customs facilities at Dublin Port due to Brexit has prompted the gateway to introduce new measures to speed the throughput of cargo, as space at the port becomes scarcer.
And Dublin Port Company CEO Eamonn O'Reilly has blasted the inefficient use of terminal space at the gateway.
The semi-State company said that the need to maximise the use of land at Dublin Port is "more pressing" following the loss of eight hectares of port lands to State agencies for secondary inspection facilities required after Brexit.
"Although eight hectares equates to only 3pc of the overall land area at Dublin Port it represents 25pc of the port lands available for development for the transit storage of freight in containers and trailers under Masterplan 2040," it noted.
Dublin Port Company said it will impose new charges and dwell time limits at a terminal operated by Doyle Shipping Group (DSG) and owned by the semi-State firm.
It said that the terminal operated by DSG accounts for 45pc of containers and trailers moving between Dublin and ports in continental Europe and beyond. It added that DPC is already seeing accelerating growth on direct routes to continental Europe in advance of Brexit.
"Our container terminals are operating at half of the target land utilisation we set for them in our Franchise Policy in 2014," said Mr O'Reilly.
"One of the impacts of Brexit is that we have to achieve these targets sooner. The Dublin Port Dwell Time Initiative provides essential financial incentives to move cargo through the port more quickly," he added.
From June 1, containers can be left at the port free of charge for four days compared to the current seven.
The daily fee for containers and trailers left at the port after the free period is also doubling to €40.
Dublin Port said the shorter dwell times will lead to fewer containers being stored for longer than necessary, freeing up space for more cargo to move through the facility.
It eventually wants to see average dwell times cut to just two days.
Mr O'Reilly also urged the operators of two leased container terminals at the port - Irish Continental and Peel Ports - to "follow our example" and "become similarly ambitious in the efficient use of Dublin Port land".
"It is no longer acceptable for shipping lines and container terminals to compete with each other based on how inefficiently they use scarce port lands," he said.
"We are focusing first on Dublin Port's three container terminals and our objective is to reduce average dwell times in the three terminals to two days by the end of 2021."
He conceded that the changes Dublin Port Company is introducing will require "significant alterations in supply chains".
"With volumes growing rapidly and Dublin Port set to reach full capacity by 2040, the days of container terminals in Dublin Port providing free or very cheap storage for importers or exporters are coming to an end," said Mr O'Reilly.
The new initiative by Dublin Port comes as it had its busiest month ever in March, with a throughput of 3.4m gross tonnes. Overall cargo volumes in the first quarter of the year were up 7pc, with imports through the port up 8pc and exports up 5.6pc.
Dublin Port's space squeeze has also seen it cut by 50pc the number of cruise ships it will permit to dock at the facility in 2021. The port saw 172 cruise ship visits last year.
Yesterday, a new group backed by lobby groups DublinTown and Retail Excellence Ireland, called on Dublin Port to reverse its decision.
All-Ireland Cruise Ship Action Group spokesperson Niamh McCarthy, who is the chief executive of Excursions Ireland, claimed the decision will "devastate" Irish tourism.
"Last year, cruise ships brought over 442,000 visitors to Ireland and generated over €50m for the Irish economy," she said.
"If Dublin Port is allowed to go ahead with its plan, all of this will be lost forever."
Mr O'Reilly has previously defended Dublin Port's decision to reduce the number of permitted cruise ship visits, citing competition for berthing at the gateway.
He said he had told Tourism Minister Shane Ross that the port either had to prioritise cruise ships or imports.
Dublin Port Company is currently seeking government approval to borrow €300m to continue the its €1bn investment programme, it said.