Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has sent a veiled threat to the Ports of Auckland board: Sort out the cargo delays, or you might not keep your job.
The port has come under fire this week after mounting delays on cargo deliveries prompted some of the ships to be re-routed to Whangārei, where the cargo will be offloaded then driven to Auckland.
The port has said the issue stems from a large hole in staff numbers, a partially-completed automation project and the fact that Covid-19 has led to a huge surge in demand for goods here.
As of this morning, Goff said he had been briefed that two container ships remain in the Hauraki Gulf awaiting berthing space to be unloaded.
Ports of Auckland is owned by Auckland Council, but the council does not have to power to direct their operations under the Port Companies Act — only to appoint the board members.
Goff said he had been clear to the company's board that they need to solve the cargo backlog issue quickly.
"While I can't direct the port company under the legislation, I have told them they need to get on and fix that problem as quickly as possible," he said.
"Some of those ships have been waiting out there for some time and it's obviously not ideal.
"I want to see the port operating far more effectively and I have the role, with council, of appointing directors to the board — and the appointments will be made on the basis that the port needs to run as efficiently and competitively as possible.
"We'll be putting on people that have the skills necessary to make sure that our port runs as effectively as it possibly can.
"In the new appointments that we're making, we're ensuring [the board] has the skills that it needs to carry out that function effectively and efficiently.
"I always want to see it do better and I particularly don't want to see the level of congestion we've got at the moment."
Ports of Auckland was last week fined more than half a million dollars for the death of port worker Laboom Dyer in 2018.