Halterm moving to clear truck logjam at terminal

Halterm Container Terminal Ltd in Halifax made "truck focused" adjustments to its operations this month in response to persistent complaints from truckers about "excessive delays" in turnaround times, CBC News has learned.

Truckers complain about 'excessive delays' in turnaround times

Halterm Container Terminal Ltd. in Halifax made 'truck focused' adjustments to its operations this month in response to persistent complaints from truckers about 'excessive delays' in turnaround times, CBC News has learned. (CBC)

Halterm Container Terminal in Halifax made "truck focused" adjustments to its operations this month in response to persistent complaints from truckers about "excessive delays" in turnaround times, CBC News has learned.

"They are extremely busy and that's causing serious delays for us," said Mike Berrigan, president of Guysborough Transfer in Dartmouth.

On April 6, Guysborough Transfer notified its customers using Halterm that effective May 1 it would impose a $75-per-container surcharge to compensate for "excessive delays" in awaiting service at the terminal.

Mike Berrigan is the president of Guysborough Transfer Ltd in Dartmouth, N.S. (CBC)

Guysborough Transfer trucks are idle between four and five hours interchanging containers when ships are alongside at Halterm.

The company said waits have been increasing over the past six months.

"We're losing revenue up to maybe $1,500, $1,000 a day. It's quite serious, it certainly hits your bottom line," Berrigan said.

Jean-Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association, said inconsistent service at Halterm can result in waits from two to eight hours.

'Very, very inefficient'

"It's costing us a lot of money. It's tying up our equipment, it's tying up our drivers," Picard said from Moncton, N.B. "We can't plan. We can't estimate the cost for certain deliveries of loads and things like that. So it makes us very, very inefficient."

On Friday the trucking association and four transport companies, including Guysborough Transfer, met with Halterm and the Halifax Port Authority to discuss "truck focused" changes made by Halterm on April 9 to address concerns.

On Friday the trucking association and four transport companies, including Guysborough Transfer, met with Halterm and the Halifax Port Authority to discuss 'truck focused' changes made by Halterm on April 9 to address concerns. (CBC)

"The objective was to address areas which may be causing fluidity issues," said port authority spokesperson Lane Farguson.

"All parties left the meeting satisfied that actions underway will improve the flow of containers to and from the terminal. We expect there will not be additional surcharges."

Those actions include opening the check-in gate an hour earlier every day so trucks are inside the facility when machinery starts moving at 8 a.m.

Issue addressed on Halterm Facebook page

Berrigan said longshoremen are also now working through breaks and lunch hours.

Halterm moved 600 trucks through the facility by 4:30 p.m.

He now believes there will be no need for a surcharge.

"Right now it's improved to the point where we do not have to charge surcharge. At least my company anyway," Berrigan said.

Halterm did not respond to CBC News inquiries but its Facebook page referred to the situation on Monday. (CBC)

Halterm did not respond to CBC News inquiries.

Its Facebook page referred to the situation on Monday.

"Truck focused... getting through the jobs already today ..." one post read, in part.

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Paul Withers

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Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.