Let's have honesty in the local government election, not headline-grabbers for votes, with promises that are unrealistic.
Without considerable money and planning, the political revelation of a plan to barge thousands of imported vehicles from Auckland wharves to East Tamaki seems unrealistic and irresponsible.
For decades, Auckland wharves have handled up to 300,000 imported cars annually, as import cargo is temporarily left there for around two days before trucks freight them to car yards.
Barging would potentially enable Auckland to get the cars off the wharf on the day they arrive, they claimed.
According to the announcement, a single barge would transport 250 cars from the wharf at a time, taking them up the Tamaki estuary south to NZ logistics company PTS' Highbrook car depot. The remainder could be stored in a new five-storey parking building with capacity for around 2500 cars on Bledisloe Wharf facing onto Quay St. That's the idea. But what about the costs?
How do you make it work? Would it get trucks off inner city streets? Would barging be consented?
And most of all, would it unlock an unwelcome eyesore and allow public access to the water's edge?
Truck movements would reduce by maybe 100 trips 25 times a year.
That's 2500 out of 460,000 container and vehicle trucks per year that service the port — or a 0.5 per cent reduction.
But that means 2500 more truck trips from Highbrook to the final destination which is simply shifting the issue to another neighbourhood and because barging is an extra layer still requiring the same road delivery, an additional $60-$80 conservatively would be added to the cost of most vehicles.
To get barges from the city wharves to Highbrook would require the Tamaki Estuary to be dredged and the spoil disposed, costing millions of dollars initially, then hundreds of thousands annually.
The question I must ask is would this work get a consent?
Maybe not in my lifetime.
East Tamaki inlet is tidal, so getting two trips a day by a barge carrying 250 cars will present navigation challenges requiring huge modifications — e.g. the barges will go under two road bridges, and yachts and launches moored in the river will need to move.
A permanent loading platform at Ports of Auckland and at Highbrook — able to float to allow for tides — will be required, and an access road to the Highbrook site built.
For 250 vehicles, a barge would need to be about 20m wide and 180m long to carry a single deck of cars and cost many millions.
The current dwell time on the wharf is currently less than 2 days, which is world class.
The Port's planned car park will take about 2500 vehicles — i.e. leaving a balance of between 1000 and 2000 parked on Bledisloe to be cleared by barge — at 250 per barge per trip that will take around 2-3 days to clear, especially when a ship carrying 4000 vehicles arrives.
Why are we trying to solve a problem which doesn't exist, as well as add cost and complexity?
Is this a winning idea for Auckland? — probably not.
• Michael Barnett is chief executive of the Auckland Business Chamber