Plans to upgrade lighting at the docks have been stalled through budget cuts. *Photo by Simon Jones
Plans to upgrade lighting at the docks have been stalled through budget cuts. *Photo by Simon Jones

FRIDAY, JULY 8: Hard-up City of Hamilton chiefs cannot afford to upgrade lighting at the Front Street docks.

And that means night working may be put on hold later this year because the lighting does not meet strict safety standards.

Peter Aldrich, general manager of Stevedoring Services, said: “This has been an ongoing issue for many years and we’ve been trying to address it with the Corporation.

Safety

“We as a company will not allow our workers to work in substandard or unsafe conditions.”

Mr Aldrich added that when the clocks change in the fall the poor lighting could begin to impact on how quickly cargo is cleared.

He said: “There is a good chance that it will come down a health and safety issue, especially when the daylight saving time finishes. But I’m hopeful that something can be resolved because the project is long overdue.”

A City of Hamilton board meeting heard that cutbacks of nearly $2 million in the budget had caused lighting replacements to be shelved.

The board heard that banks had refused to loan money for the project because the City’s right to charge wharfage fees was removed by Parliament last year.

Banks do not consider the $5 million grant from Government towards running the docks as security because it could be cut or even removed in the future. City secretary Edward Benevides said the City had intended to install better lighting two years ago, but the plan was delayed because of Government plans to install an X-ray machine for containers.

Mr Benevides said the lighting plans needed to be reconfigured because the dock layout and container locations had to be changed due to the X-ray machine.

In the meantime, Government has taken away the income stream from the docks that the banks would have considered as security for a loan. Alderman Pamela Ferreira said at the meeting on Wednesday: “We should address this ahead of time before workers start downing tools.”

She added that Stevedoring Services and the container company had written to Government to say they were concerned about industrial action over working at night.

“Any issue which can impact on the safety of our operations would not mean strike action — we simply would not allow people to work in unsafe conditions,” said Mr Aldrich.