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Proposed pipeline triggers protests against rail links to Canadian ports

PROTESTERS have been blocking sections of Canada's rail network, impacting port operations on both coasts, in opposition to a Indians objections to the gas pipeline crossing native lands in British Columbia

26 February 2020 - 19:00

PROTESTERS have been blocking sections of Canada's rail network, impacting port operations on both coasts, in opposition to a Indians objections to the gas pipeline crossing native lands in British Columbia.

Protests prompted the Canadian National Railway to suspend its eastern operations. The blockades have also disrupted service on CN's western operations.



At the Port of Vancouver, offshore vessels are waiting to dock so they can unload their goods, according to port officials. The blockades have also delayed the loading and unloading of cargo that occurs between ships and the railways, reported American Shipper.



'Our role as a port authority is to facilitate trade on behalf of Canada in a safe and efficient manner. Part of that role is to ensure there are an adequate number of safe anchorages in the region to accommodate vessel traffic,' said port spokesperson Danielle Jiang.



'Due to the recent disruptions in rail operations and protest activity, the demand for anchorages is currently exceeding the availability, causing a backlog of ships waiting to get into port. During times of congestion, the port authority manages anchorages in a way to ensure continued fluidity for all ship types and ensure anchorages continue to be available for essential services,' she said.



Ms Jiang confirmed a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation report that some 40 ships are waiting to dock at the port, which has 60 anchorages available to ships. The anchorages are already occupied or have been assigned to ships expected to arrive in the next several days, according to the report.



In eastern Canada, the port of Halifax warned shippers of operational changes related to the protesters' blockade at CN's rail network in Belleville, Ontario. The 11-day blockade there has forced CN to shut down its eastern operations and VIA Rail to cancel passenger rail service on all but two lines.



'The Halifax Port Authority is working closely with CN Rail and terminal operators, PSA Halifax and Ceres-Halifax, to minimise the impact of rail disruptions on port of Halifax operations,' the port said in a February 16 operations update.



'The Port of Halifax remains open. Vessels are able to berth alongside. Terminals are following normal operating hours, and scheduled truck gate times remain in place,' the port said.



Government officials continue to seek a peaceful solution with protesters. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled his appearance at an intersessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, staying put in Canada to convene a group to discuss the rail disruptions.



The Prime Minister's office said that Mr Trudeau has met with Ontario Premier Doug Ford to discuss the railway blockages.


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