The Nanaimo Port Authority is seeking to secure regular business from container ship company Westwood Shipping Lines.
The port has been working with contractor DP World Vancouver, which has a subcontract with Westwood, to create a direct connection to the Asia Pacific market. The MV Westwood Pacific berthed at Duke Point terminal last week on a test run, which provided service to Japan and Korea, plus feeder service to Asia.
According to Jeet Manhas, port chairman, the run went smoothly and another one is scheduled for September. Port members, along with counterparts from DP World and Westwood, will also meet at that time. Regular service would be a boon, he said.
“It would be huge, not just for the Nanaimo Port Authority, but the City of Nanaimo in general and for the region itself,” Manhas said. “I can’t put a finger on the number of how many jobs it will create and revenue, not just for the port but also for the [city], people of Nanaimo and tertiary and secondary jobs and so forth – it’s pretty big.”
Nanaimo is an attractive option given there isn’t much capacity left at the Prince Rupert and Vancouver ports, according to Manhas.
David Mailloux, port manager of communications, said Nanaimo allows Westwood more scheduling flexibility.
“It allows them to get in here and get the shipment off to Asia and get back and know they can get in and out as they need to,” Mailloux said. “That’s one real advantage and that’s why they’re testing it … they have a better read on [Vancouver] and they probably anticipate that things are going to be like that for awhile and they don’t want to lose opportunity.”
The port is in preliminary stages of Duke Point dock expansion and recently received $4.5 million of Asia Pacific Gateway Corridor Initiative Program money from the Canadian government, which is intended to assist with the container operation.
Port members were recently in New Brunswick for a conference and had an audience with Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt, where expansion was discussed. While they only had 10 minutes with Raitt, Manhas was pleased with the results.
“It was very positive and she was very supportive of it and now we just have to do our homework and get something on her desk,” he said.