Port congestion is still very much with us, not just at one or two ports and not just on the West Coast. Of the nation’s 10 busiest ports by volume, it is estimated that at least seven face congestion regularly. The causes are varied and complex — labor disruptions, cargo surges from big ships, infrastructure needs, marine terminal productivity, and equipment shortages, among other causes. In the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach productivity at the 12 container terminals in LA-LB is expected to diminish further, chassis shortages will intensify, drayage capacity will be stretched to the limit, and import distribution warehouses throughout Southern California will be even more challenged in moving product to stores and regional distribution facilities throughout the country.
The result is chronic gridlock at many ports. Ships are stranded offshore for days, even weeks, waiting to unload. Containers are buried in enormous stacks in clogged terminal yards. Trucks wait in line for hours (up to eight or nine hours in some cases) to pick up a single container and customers throughout the country experience shipment delays lasting weeks. The congestion and bottlenecks reverberate throughout the supply chain, becoming a significant trade barrier for both exports and imports with a corresponding negative impact on the economy.
Import volumes have exploded in the past few months as shipments of personal protective equipment, e-commerce fulfillment, inventory replenishment, holiday season, and spring 2021 home improvement merchandise enters through the largest US gateway.
Intermodal equipment providers (IEPs) say while they are making an all-out effort to remedy chassis shortages in Southern California, the shortages will likely persist into next year if the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continue to handle record import volumes from Asia.
Trucking operators on Thursday called on ocean carriers to temporarily suspend detention and demurrage fees at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as the largest US port complex works through unprecedented congestion issues. If you would like to hear the press conference on this subject, the recording can be viewed below.
More information is also available on the JOC.com website.