SYDNEY, April 12 (Xinhua) -- New owners of the Port of Melbourne have warned that the city could be flooded by trucks as they aim to increase the capacity of the port.
The Lonsdale Consortium, made up of the Future Fund, Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and China's Shanghai CRED, said the port could grow to handle 12 to 15 million containers every year, up 500 percent from the current capacity of 2.5 million containers annually.
If successful, the increased capacity would make the port one of the ten busiest shipping containers in the world.
After paying 7.2 billion U.S. dollars for the 50-year lease of the port in 2016, the consortium has demanded that the Victorian Government, led by Premier Daniel Andrews, makes upgrades to Melbourne's infrastructure to cope with the increased freight traffic.
In a submission to Infrastructure Victoria, the Port of Melbourne Corporation asked the government to reconsider truck curfews in Melbourne's western suburbs and to re-consider the multi-billion dollar East-West Link that the government cancelled after winning the last state election.
It also said that Melbourne's two most important bridges, the West Gate and the Bolte, should be strengthened so they can safely support trucks weighing up to 109 tonnes, up from the current limit of 68 tonnes.
The submission, published by Fairfax Media on Wednesday, said, "Truck curfew hours should be carefully considered as it has significant impact on supporting the 24 hours operation model of the Port of Melbourne."
The submission also casted doubts over the ability of the government's major road project, the West Gate Tunnel, to keep trucks off suburban streets.
Luke Donnellan, Victoria's Roads Minister, maintained that local roads were inefficient for truck operators to transport goods.
"The freight industry needs an efficient connection to the port - one that has been specially designed for heavy vehicles - not suburban streets," Donnellan said.
Colleen Hartland, a Greens MP for the Western suburbs of Melbourne, said that in focusing on crash statistics, the submission had "completely missed the point on why trucks are dangerous to health."
"The issue for children is about exposure to diesel particulates and noise. Maribyrnong has the highest rate of children's admission to hospital for respiratory illnesses in the state," she said. Enditem