Overall, the port said that until there was a clearer picture of the damage sustained to key infrastructure, port operations would remain suspended, with the key focus being to “recover elements of key services as quickly as possible to ensure food and all essential supplies can get in”.
The port’s preliminary engineering assessment carried out today (23 February) had revealed that the wharves on the container facility had held up well but that there are urgent minor works to be done.
“We are aiming to have limited operations available within three to four days”, the statement added. “Our current best estimate to get back to our previous operation service levels prior to the 6.3 quake is in 10 days.”
The port will issue daily updates to customers directly affected but it has suspended collections and deliveries for a further 24 hours. Today the port intends to correct any misaligned containers at its CityDepot site, which it hoped would be operational later in the day.
The oil berth at Lyttelton has held up well, with the next stage being to confirm that the pipework is fully serviceable. The facility is expected to be operational within 48 hours, with a tanker scheduled for fuel discharge this Saturday 26.
“Our clear focus is on ensuring that fuel and essential services will get through to Christchurch,” said the statement.
Assessment of the general cargo area will take place tomorrow (Thursday).
Damage at the port as a result of yesterday’s earthquake was described as significant and greater than that sustained in last September’s earthquake, according to chief executive Peter Davie, speaking to local newspapers yesterday. Fortunately no-one at the port had been injured.
Ironically, earlier this month (February) Davie described the post-quake task of rebuilding the port after the September quake as “the most complex”, with 20 staff working on the rebuilding project.
As most of the port’s facilities are on reclaimed land, including the container and coal-working areas and the fuel-tank farm, this had included assessing the condition of hundreds of wharf piles, some buried up to 40 metres.
Scientists put the epicentre of yesterday’ devastating earthquake in the middle of the harbour at Lyttelton, where earlier reports described the suburbs of Lyttelton and New Brighton as “unliveable”.