Delays Expected For Reef Shipping Services To Cook Island Ports

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Newer, faster vessel unable to dock until port upgrades completed

By Rachel Reeves

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 30, 2012) – Reef Shipping has advised its customers to expect delays from now through to the end of July.

It cannot introduce its newer, faster ship Southern Reef until the harbor redevelopment is complete, and until then its carrying capacity is limited.

Reef Express voyage 157, which is scheduled to arrive in Rarotonga on June 13 and Aitutaki on June 15, was unable to accept all cargo orders.

Some cargo did not make it onto the ship before the wait list closed, and will remain at the Auckland wharf until Southern Tiare departs.

The cargo will be loaded onto Southern Tiare in Auckland on June 23, which sails directly to Rarotonga. Her estimated time of arrival is June 30 at Avarua.

"In the short term, through until the end of July, we are likely to find this an ongoing problem, however once the harbour redevelopment is completed we will place the Southern Reef in this trade."

Southern Reef is a 5,250 ton (deadweight) vessel that replaces Southern Express. It is capable of carrying more than 500 containers, including up to 60 refrigerated containers, and can also handle general cargo like construction timber, palletized cement and vehicles.

Until the harbor redevelopment is complete, Southern Reef cannot service the Cook Islands. It is now in operation throughout the rest of the southwest Pacific region. When Reef introduces Southern Reef, Southern Express will be withdrawn from service.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (who is also Minister of Transport) had told Cook Islands News last month that a press statement explaining in detail Reef’s long-term strategy for meeting the Cook Islands’ shipping needs was forthcoming. To date it has not been issued.

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