Traffic at the Port of Halifax is booming

by Sonia Straface

HALIFAX, N.S. — Container traffic at the Port of Halfax is flourishing, jumping 19% year-over-year.

According to the latest numbers released by the port, container traffic was up 17% in the first half of 2017, compared to the same time last year. And that was after a milestone-reaching 2016 when container traffic at the Port of Halifax spiked 14.9% from 2015.

In addition, the port is making headlines as it has been welcoming massive container ships it wouldn’t have been able to service in the past. All of this success can be credited to a number of factors, said Lane Farguson, communications advisor for the Halifax Port Authority.

“We have been in a positive growth cycle here at the Port of Halifax for the last two years now and certainly our last quarterly numbers reflect that,” he said. “There’s a number of factors that are coming together that are favorable for us at the Port of Halifax right now. We’ve got excellent partnerships with our terminal operators, ocean carriers, our rail provider, CN, our labor group in Halifax, the ILA (union) and the Atlantic Pilotage Authority and local tug operators.”

He added the second piece of the puzzle to help create this boom at the port was the additional lane of the Suez Canal that opened up in 2015, and more recently the expansion of the Panama Canal.

“As a result of those two pieces, we are seeing larger vessels deployed along the East Coast of North America,” Farguson said. “And with the raising of the Bayonne Bridge in N.Y. recently, that’s accelerating these larger vessels being deployed along the eastern North American trade lanes.”

Normally, the port had been accepting vessels measured in the 4,000-6,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent) range. However, on June 29, it welcomed the gigantic Zim Antwerp, a vessel the measured 349 meters in length and had a TEU capacity of 10,062.

It marked the port’s first ever vessel over 10,000 TEU, Farguson noted.

“We were very excited to see that vessel,” he said. “It speaks to the deployment of vessels into the eastern trade lanes that we’re a part of.”

Farguson said that the port is gearing up and preparing to accept vessels of a similar size in the near future.

“We’d been preparing for the arrival of larger vessels for years now,” he said. “And now that we’re seeing them, we’re looking ahead to make the necessary infrastructure changes to be able to berth and service those vehicles.”

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