Trade through the port of Fremantle is running 12 per cent up on last year's level and 27 per cent up on the previous year's rate, according to figures released today.
Transport Minister Pam Beggs said in the first six months of 1992-93, almost 71,200 containers had been handled through the port, compared with 63,750 in the corresponding period last year.
This means the port is set to break the 1991-92 record of 132,000 containers handled over the Fremantle wharves.
Mrs Beggs said total trade for the six months was up six per cent, from 7.788 million tonnes to 8.227 million tonnes in the same period.
The port had achieved several efficiency gains in the period, through the introduction of workplace agreements where watersiders and employers had sat down and decided on productivity improvements.
· a 20 per cent cut in ship turnaround times - from 60 hours down to 48 hours;
· a 35 to 50 per cent increase in the number of containers handled per crane;
· a huge drop in the time ships waited for berths - now two hours compared with 12 hours three years ago.
"The increase in container trade also can be attributed to the growing success of Fremantle's niche intermodal system that has opened up more opportunities for manufacturers looking to increase export activities," Mrs Beggs said.
"The system has proven a viable alternative for importers servicing eastern Australian markets and has significant potential for exporters.
"The State Government's commitment to adding value to our exports will result in further gains on the waterfront."
Mrs Beggs said shipping companies were looking more favourably on Fremantle as a port for landbridging cargo across Australia.
"Fremantle now is the first discharge port in Australia for Mediterranean Shipping Company vessels bringing containers from Europe, South Africa and the east coast of the United States," she said.
"The company has doubled its port calls to Fremantle and is landbridging cargo to Adelaide by rail.
"As well, the Baltic Shipping Company has made arrangements to begin landbridging cargo from Fremantle to Adelaide."
Mrs Beggs said an independent study by the Melbourne-based consultants Thompson Clarke Shipping last year named Fremantle as Australia's best option to become a national gateway for landbridging containers from South East Asia and Europe.
The study estimated that up to 45,000 containers a year could be landbridged between the west and east coasts.