TRUCK convoys plying around the clock to and from the state border in Melbourne and Adelaide are expected to deliver the diverted farm equipment back to Western Australian dealerships within the next two weeks.
The first of 53 combine harvesters, 44 tractors and other farm equipment, including new cutter front parts, diverted to five ships a fortnight ago due to a long industrial dispute at Fremantle port, are expected to arrive last Friday and over the weekend. .
Dealers contacted by Farm Weekly said the operation to retrieve the equipment appeared to be running smoothly, given the complex logistics of shipping bulky goods across the tri-state area, with expected delays of less than three weeks overall.
Much of the equipment due to be unloaded at the Fremantle plant late last month and in the first few days of this month was already late due to difficulties in production and the supply chain as a remnant of the COVID-19 pandemic, and customers were aware of this, some dealers noted.
The number of vessels arriving at Melbourne port on short notice to unload roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) cargoes has caused further delays in unloading them, some equipment dealers said, with freight companies engaged by Washington state dealerships unable to start loading until Tuesday. this week, although some of the rejected vessels arrived from Wednesday of the previous week.
Farm Machinery and Industry Association (FM&IA) executive director John Henchy said he spoke to Wallenius Wilhelmsen, operator of the five rejected vessels carrying farm equipment, on Tuesday and confirmed that the cargo had been unloaded and was leaving Melbourne.
“The equipment seems to be moving, albeit somewhat slowly, so it seems to be going according to plan so far, which is good news,” Mr Henchy said.
As previously reported in Farm Weekly, Mr Henchy had warned Agriculture and Food Minister Alanna McTiernan in August that if it was not resolved, the industrial dispute, which started on July 30 at Fremantle port, could affect the timely delivery of machinery “for that hay and crop. season”.
Mr Henchy asked that his letter be forwarded to Ports Minister Rita Saffioti.
One major dealership has dispatched its own trucks and hired other trucks and drivers to arrange round-trip transport to and from Eucla – on the Washington state border – to its offices throughout the Washington state region to ensure minimal delays in returning equipment in advance. -deliveries are serviced and dispatched to grain customers for harvesting.
It collects combines, headers and tractors at a roadside site in Eucla, brought there by contractors from the eastern states, and the equipment is unloaded from trucks from the east and loaded onto WA trucks at the roadside lorry park.
The purpose of the transfer is to avoid further potential delays with COVID-19 tests for drivers and G2G passes for interstate drivers arriving further into Washington.
Following an appeal by the Western Highways Federation, which represents commercial road transport operators in Western Australia, Main Roads has granted an exemption to allow side-by-side loading of two harvester fronts with a maximum width of 2.8 metres to facilitate movement. equipment across WA from the border.
In fact, the exemption means three trucks will be needed to move the two harvesters and their fronts, rather than four.
“We have created permit No 8366, which must be used in conjunction with a Class 1 oversize period permit or an oversize truck and double period B permit (depending on the length of the harvester fronts),” said heavy vehicle Main Roads. road access manager Rich Bain.
“Any operator wishing to be confirmed will need to send an email for the permit. Applications@mainroads.wa. Gov.au stating their current over-period and/or oversize vehicle permit number and a double-period B permit number and request confirmation 8366 to be attached,” he said.
Confirmation 8366 will be available until the end of November, when the situation will be reviewed, Mr Bain said.
Athol Kennedy, Agwest Machinery Esperance’s main dealer, said he expected the customer’s front-end to arrive “by the weekend”, having moved from Fremantle to Melbourne at Mv Tamerlane.
“It was getting late and there was work to be done – 3,000 hectares of canola needing to be tilled, probably three tonnes per hectare,” Kennedy said.
“This front had already passed Esperance twice (on the way to Fremantle and then on the way to Melbourne).
“I was lucky, the only reason I had it this weekend was because as soon as I found out it wasn’t being unloaded at Freem